Kenya court suspends government’s move to close refugee camps
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Kenya court suspends government’s move to close refugee camps

Kenya’s high court issued a 30-day stay order Thursday suspending a move by the government to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps housing hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn neighboring countries such as Somalia.

The case arose after Kenya’s Interior Minster Fred Matiang’i announced the government’s desire to close the Dadaab and Kakuma camps. Matiang’i’s announcement provided the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with a 14-day ultimatum to formulate a plan to close the camps as soon as possible. The UNHCR responded by urging “the Government of Kenya to ensure that any decisions allow for suitable and sustainable solutions to be found and that those who continue to need protection are able to receive it.”

In his court filing, Petitioner Peter Gichira stated, “[t]he threatened closure of camps and forced repatriation offends all those international legal instruments protecting refugees as well as those prohibiting torture, cruelty, degrading and inhuman treatment.” Speaking on behalf of the high court, Justice Antony Mrima agreed with Petitioner Gichira finding the directive to close the two camps violates Kenya’s constitution, as well as international laws and treaties regarding the protection of refugee rights.

This is not the first time Kenya has attempted to shut down refugee camps within the country. In November 2016, Kenya cited security reasons when revealing plans to close the Dadaab camp. The court was quick to find the Kenyan government’s order to close Dadaab was unconstitutional.