By JUDIE KABERIA, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 20 – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) delegation visiting Kenya on Friday emphasised that political stability and security should be considered before Kenya shuts down the Dadaab camp which hosts the bulk of Somali refugees.
Addressing a press conference in Nairobi, the delegation diplomatically disagreed with Kenya’s decision to shut down the camp in consideration of Somalia’s fragile political atmosphere toppled with high insecurity.
“It’s a great challenge for Kenya… lack of resources. We understand what it means to have terrorists. Closing the refugee camp now may not be the best option,” Amb Abdellahif Aboulatta stated.
Kenya’s dilemma, he said, was understandable but at the same time would lead to a humanitarian crisis in consideration that Somalia – the country the refugees are supposed to return to – was reeling with challenges posed by terrorism stemming from the Al Shabaab terror group.
Though Kenya has stated that its decision to shut the Dadaab Camp was final, Aboulatta told the news conference that after holding discussions with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday, there was hope for discussions on its decision.
“He voiced his concerns of course about the challenges that Kenya and the camp is facing, from our part we will be willing to discuss the matter with the Kenyan authorities, I think there’s an opening here,” he explained.
In their pledge to continue supporting Kenya in the refugee crisis and also Somalia’s journey to stability, the delegation announced that upon return to New York, the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) will be a main topic of discussion.
The discussion will centre on renewal of the AMISOM mandate and how it can be strengthened to respond to the challenges of terrorism in Somalia.
According to Amb Matthew Rycroft the visiting delegation received views of the Kenyan authorities about challenges AMISOM was facing in Somalia.
“There is a range of issues we need to discuss, one is about the mandate; how we can help AMISOM improve its capability within the existing mandate. There is more that can be done in terms of improving command control, improving coordination and allowing AMISOM to have more flexible and robust response to the many challenges which it faces,” Rycroft explained.
The delegation further placed high hopes on the August election in Somalia which it identified as an important aspect likely to help shape the country’s political system and also to respond to terrorism and humanitarian challenges.
“The UNSC was clear that the electoral model should be adopted as soon as possible and the election should be held as scheduled in August,” Aboulatta said it was the main message they gave the Somali leaders when they met them in Mogadishu on Thursday.