June 2, 2016

Dadaab shutdown

How will Kenya carry out the closure of the world’s largest refugee complex?

Ignoring warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe, Kenya’s Interior minister announced this week that by November, the Dadaab refugee complex will be closed. He said the country is ready to help Somalia and the United Nations repatriate the nearly half million refugees in a humane way, but that it ultimately is a “UN exercise”. Members of the Kenyan and Somali governments join us to discuss.


Most residents of Dadaab are from Somalia, many of whom have lived in the camp since it opened in 1991. Kenya says the tent city is a hive for the al-Shabab armed group, and that it is compromising the safety and economy of its people. Humanitarian groups have downplayed the security concerns, suggesting that closing the camps will breed more unrest and put many of the refugees in danger.

Critics of the plan to close Dadaab suggest the Kenyan government is using the refugees as a bargaining chip to get more international aid and conjure up political capital ahead of next year’s national election. Kenyan officials deny this and say after 25 years, the country can no longer keep hundreds of thousands of Somalis, Ethiopians and South Sudanese living in limbo. So, how will Kenya, Somalia and the UN close the world’s largest refugee complex, where will the people go and how will their rights be protected?

In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Mwenda Njoka @mwendanjoka
Kenyan Interior Ministry spokesman

Ahmed Awad @ambahmedawad1
Somali Ambassador to the United States

Moulide Hajale @MoulidHujale 
Humanitarian journalist who grew up in Dadaab

Victor Nyamori @nyamoriv
Refugee officer, Amnesty International

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.