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Campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised Kenya’s ultimatum to the UNHCR to close refugee camps in the country.
The rights watchdog said the new demand for the refugee agency “to provide a plan and timeline for closing the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps” had caused anxiety for the 400,000 refugees in the camps.
It said many of the thousands of Somali, South Sudanese, Congolese and other refugees “have never known life outside these camps”.
It added that the ultimatum was unhelpful as UNHCR had no “quick fix to offer”.
“Until the situation in Somalia stabilises, Kenya needs to maintain asylum and consider allowing refugees at long last to integrate. They could start by opening up, not closing, the camps and allowing those forced to live there freedom to move,” Bill Frelick, the director of HRW’s refugee and migrant rights division, said.
On 24 March, Kenya’s interior ministry gave the UNHCR 14 days to come up with a plan to shut the camps, A court has since suspended the directive.
Kenya first announced its intention to close the camps in 2016, citing national security concerns.