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A Roadmap for the Closure of Kenya’s Largest Refugee Camps

The UN refugee agency has given the Kenyan government “sustainable and rights-based” proposals for the closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. The response follows a 14-day ultimatum issued by the Kenyan government for the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) to come up with a plan for closing the two camps, which are home to some 430,000 refugees and asylum seekers from more than 15 countries. The UNHCR’s proposals include “enhanced voluntary repatriation”, resettlement programmes and issuing national ID cards more quickly to Kenyans registered as refugees. The agency is also advocating that refugees from East African Community partner states be offered alternative arrangements to stay in the country, representing a “major opportunity for refugees to become self-reliant and contribute to the local economy”. The UNHCR said it recognised “the tremendous generosity that the people and government of Kenya have demonstrated towards refugees for many decades and the need to resolve situations of longstanding displacement”. The government had declared there was “no room for further negotiations” on the closure.