The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has requested the Kenya Government to enhance the security of Dadaab refugee camp even as deliberations on the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia gets underway.
The request was made to President Uhuru Kenyatta today by the High Commissioner of UNHCR, Antonio Guterres, at State House, Nairobi.
Mr Guterres said deployment of special police units will control infiltration by criminal and terror networks in the vast refugee camp.
“From experience, when GSU officers were deployed to the camps in the past, security improved and we request for the deployment of sufficient numbers of security personnel especially the GSU to Dadaab,” said Mr Guterres.
Mr Guterres was in Nairobi to hold talks with President Kenyatta on the issue of the refugee camps and the Government’s call for the immediate repatriation of refugees from Somalia.
The UNHCR chief agreed with the Kenya Government’s position that national security cannot be relegated when Kenya was facing constant threats. He however said that the process has to be done in an organised manner that does not compound regional security problems.
“I thank Kenya for its open door policy to people running away from danger. We also agree that there is no government that will minimise the security of its citizens,” he said.
Mr Guterres said UNHCR supports the Kenya Government in its fight against terrorism and is ready for a closer cooperation with State.
“We support the authority of the State. Kenya’s success in fighting terrorism is of global interest,” said Mr Guterres
President Kenyatta said Kenya has been and will continue fulfilling its international obligations but the sense of urgency to repatriate the refugees has been necessitated by the security threats facing Kenyans.
“We want the world to understand that the security of our people and their property cannot be relegated to the bottom of our priority list,” he said.
The President said that despite the urgency with which Kenya wants the refugees to go back home, it wants the process to be smooth to avoid creating more problems.
At the same time, Mr Guterres said the UNHCR has been lobbying major world governments and bodies to change how they formulate development cooperation policies so that they take collective security.
He said countries like Kenya, which are regional stability anchors, should be given priority in development co-operation by major world powers.
“Development cooperation policies should take into account collective security and countries that support regional stability should be given the support they deserve,” he said.
The UNHCR boss is set to travel to Somalia as the refugee agency gets on with the plans for the eventual repatriation of the refugees.
Mr Guterres said the agency has already identified eight districts in Somalia where the refugees could be resettled.
The UNHCR boss was accompanied by the UNHCR country representative Raouf Mazou and UNDP country representative Nardos Bekele-Thomas.
Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and Principal Secertaries Dr Monica Juma (Internal Security) and Eng. Karanja Kibicho (Foreign Affairs) also attended the meeting.