By Andrew Ross
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday held talks with members of the United Nations Security Council over the proposed controversial closure of the Dadaab refugee camp.
Kenyatta explained to the 15 UN Security Council members, led by current council head and Egyptian Ambassador to the UN Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta, that Kenya had decided to close the camp due to national security concerns and economic burdens that it can no longer shoulder.
Kenya had lamented the international community’s lack of commitment to aid in the repatriation of refugees, as only around 10,000 people had been repatriated to Somalia since a 2013 tripartite agreement by Kenya, Somalia, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Kenyatta explained that through the efforts of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) soldiers, Somalia has become safer than it has been in 25 years. He added that an EU decision to cut its funding to AMISOM by 20 percent threatens the mission’s effectiveness.
For his part, Aboulatta told reporters that they had a lengthy talk with Kenyatta, who assured them that he is open for discussion on the closure issue.
“We discussed terrorism and the refugee issue. The message from the council was clear that refugee hosting is a sharing responsibility. We voiced our concern about the closing of the camp,” Aboulatta said, assuring Kenya of Security Council support in fighting terrorism.
British Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft said that they had visited Somalia on Thursday and met with government officials who assured them that August elections will be held as scheduled.
Kenya on May 6 announced that it will be closing the Dadaab refugee camp and sending more than 350,000 Somali refugees back to their home country. The East African country disbanded its Department for Refugee Affairs as a first step.