The Kenyan authorities should halt their plan to forcibly move 55,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers from cities to overcrowded and underserviced refugee camps, Human Rights Watch said today. Citing a number of grenade attacks in 2012, the authorities contend the move will improve Kenyan national security and lead to the return of Somali refugees to Somalia.
The plan would violate refugees’ free movement rights and would almost certainly involve the unlawful forced eviction of tens of thousands of refugees from their lodgings in the cities, Human Rights Watch said. The longstanding humanitarian crisis in Kenya’s refugee camps also means the relocation would affect refugees’ ability to make a living and unlawfully reduce their access to adequate food, clothing, housing, health care and education.
“Kenya is using the recent grenade attacks to stigmatize all refugees as potential terrorists and to force tens of thousands of them into appalling living conditions in already severely overcrowded camps,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher and advocate for Human Rights Watch. “The plan to forcibly transfer tens of thousands of people from the cities to camps is unlawful and will cause extreme hardship.”