MSF Response to Kenyan Government Statement on Closing Refugee Camps

Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures

In response to a statement by the Kenyan government that it intends to close its camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued the following statement from Liesbeth Aelbrecht, MSF head of mission in Kenya:

"Today’s statement by the Kenyan government to close down Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps citing security concerns highlights once more the continued and blatant neglect of millions of refugees around the world. In the world's largest refugee camp complex, Dadaab—where MSF works in the Dagahaley camp—the closure would risk some 330,000 Somali lives and have extreme humanitarian consequences, forcing people to return to a war-torn country with minimal access to vital medical and humanitarian assistance.

“This is not the first time the government has made such statements regarding the forcible return of refugees. MSF is urging the government to reconsider this call, and—alongside the international organizations already present in the camp— to continue to provide humanitarian assistance and ensure acceptable living conditions for the hundreds of thousands of people who desperately need it."

Thousands of families in desperate need of food and water have trekked for days from Somalia to the Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya. The drought is the worst in East Africa for 60 years. The UN described it as a "humanitarian emergency". The already overcrowded complex received 1,000 new refugees a day in June, five times more than a year ago. About 30,000 people arrived at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya in June, according to UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, compared to 6,000 in June 2010.
Robin Hammond/Panos Pictures