By Suleiman Hassan:
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery has blamed leaders of the refugee community in Dadaab for failing to fully cooperate with the government in the war on terror.
Speaking after leading a high level Kenyan delegation in a tour of the World’s biggest refugee camp on a fact finding mission on Monday, the tough talking Nkaissery said it was from Dadaab refugee camps that all major terror attacks in the country were planned and asked the refugee community leadership why they were not playing their part in curbing the threat.
“A lot of radicalization is going on in Dadaab, the attack on Garissa University as well as the one on Westgate were planned in this town and that made me very angry. Why are you not working with government to end this menace?” asked Nkaissery.
The CS reassured the refugees that they will not be forced to go back home saying the exercise was voluntary and that the government was only facilitating the process.
He added Kenya was a signatory to International conventions that safeguard the interest of refugees and has been humane to them and hosting them for all those years without any problem whatsoever.
As a result, the CS added, it is incumbent upon the refugees to equally ensure their hosts do not suffer in the hands of bad elements posing as refugees.
“It will be very wrong for Kenya to say this camp will be closed for security reasons and send you back when you have nowhere to return to, this will not happen as repatriation is voluntary and the Kenyan government has been humane to refugees for many years” said the CS.
The refugee leadership however refuted the claims but North Eastern Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh leaped to the defense of his boss saying they have arrested 6 suspects on Sunday alone.
“We arrested 6 suspects yesterday alone, Four in Dhagahley and Two in Ifo II. The story was the same last month as we arrested 4 suspects and recovered a deadly cache of arms in Ifo 2” confirmed Saleh adding that while the government will not say all the refugees were up to no good, it was the latter’s responsibility to identify the bad elements in their midst.
Garissa County Governor Nathif Jama, Fafi MP Elias Barre Shill, his Dadaab counterpart Dr. Mohamed Dahiye as well as Garissa Township’s Aden Duale who is also the Majority leader in the National Assembly were in the company of the CS.
The team later saw off 7 families that that were flown to Somalia as part of the voluntary repatriation exercise.
In a press briefing, Duale said the delegation was in Dadaab to reassure the refugee community on the voluntary nature of the exercise ahead of a visit by other stake holders in the tripartite agreement that will see willing refugees taken back home.
The Majority leader disclosed that a high level delegation from Somalia led by the Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke, Jubbaland head of State Ahmed Madoobe and his South West Somalia counterpart Shariff Hassan as well as senior UNHCR officials will also visit the camp in the next 10 days on a similar mission.
“Stakeholders will ensure that while the voluntary repatriation takes shape from this end, the necessary infrastructure and social amenities will also be put in place in areas where the refugees will be taken back at home in order to give them a safe landing” Duale Said.
The host community on their side asked the government to cushion them against the effects of playing home to the more than half a million refugees.
Environmental degradation and ‘identity crisis’ has been cited as the biggest challenge to the host community who sometimes feel neglected at the expense of their guests.
While hundreds of NGOs and other Aid agencies operate in the refugee camps, locals feel the refugees get better treatment hence leaving them at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Years of prolonged droughts caused by massive environmental degradation in the area made life difficult for the local pastoral community forcing them to pose as refugees after droughts wiped out their entire herds in order to get a share of the food rations and medication Aid agencies avail to the refugees.
Many local youths were also lured into registration as refugees by the desire to one day catch a flight to the ‘promised land’ as some refugees are relocated overseas especially to countries in Europe and America.
As a result, when they apply for their National Identity cards, many fail to get one due to the fact that they have already been registered as refugees.
Attempts by the local leadership to address this issue has been fruitless so far.
Wajir South MP Abdullahi Diriye tabled a bill in Parliament that sought to compel the government give the all-important document to this group of youth. However, the bill is yet to see the light of day.