World, Africa

Kenya examining camp for citizens posing as 'refugees'

UN estimates over 24,000 Kenyans are posing as refugees in enormous Dadaab camp

19.12.2016
Kenya examining camp for citizens posing as 'refugees'

By Magdalene Mukami

NAIROBI, Kenya

Kenya’s government said Monday it was reviewing ID lists at the country’s enormous Dadaab camp to uncover thousands of its own citizens apparently posing as refugees.

According to a report released by the United Nations in October, over 24,600 people “confessed to being Kenyans registered as refugees” with many signing up to take advantage of free services and food.

Kenya’s Interior Ministry said Monday the state had officially started scrutinizing registers at Dadaab, the world’s biggest refugee camp.

The government has said those “double-registered” who do not come forward by Dec. 31 will be arrested and prosecuted.

Interior Minister Joseph Nkaisserry said even though the East African country had agreed to extend the deadline for Dadaab’s closure, Kenya had promised to undertake an elaborate repatriation program, starting with identifying fraudsters on the refugee register.

“The first activity to be undertaken in the first month of the program was to clear double registered persons from the refugee register,” Nkaisserry said.

“By clearing such individuals from the register, the Dadaab refugee complex will be left with bona fide refugees, thus deserving the refugee status. This will, in return smoothen the ongoing repatriation process,” he added.

He called on Kenyans who registered as refugees to report to the local authorities in Dadaab with original copies of their registration documents.

The refugee camp is home to more than 340,000 Somali refugees, and was officially opened in 1990 to temporarily shelter people fleeing civil war in their home country.

In May this year Kenya announced it would close the refugee camp and send all Somalis back home, citing security concerns.

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