United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke today by telephone with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya following the Kenyan Government’s recent decision to close the Dadaab refugee camps, expressing deep appreciation for the country’s decades of generosity to asylum seekers.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban expressed deep appreciation to President Kenyatta and the people of Kenya for decades of generous hospitality to significant populations of asylum-seekers and refugees.
“The Secretary-General assured President Kenyatta that he appreciated the enormous task and responsibility involved in hosting large numbers of refugees, amidst daunting security challenges,” the statement said, noting that Mr. Ban also urged the President to continue to use the 2013 Tripartite Agreement, signed with Somalia and the Office of the UN high Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as a basis for the voluntary return of Somali refugees in safety and dignity.
Mr. Ban in the statement went on to express the United Nations support to Kenya, including the proposal by the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, that a high-level bilateral review on the refugee situation in Kenya be conducted by the Government of Kenya and UNHCR.
In the phone call, the Secretary-General mentioned that the Deputy Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Refugees would visit Kenya at the end of May.
“They look forward to discussing this issue forward with the Government of Kenya, and will underline the readiness of the United Nations to garner the support of the international community in addressing Kenya’s refugee challenges, with consideration for the host communities in Kenya as well as the sub-regional security concerns, the statement concluded.
On 6 May, Kenya’s Ministry of Interior said that the Government had disbanded its Department of Refugee Affairs and was working on a mechanism for the closure of the country’s refugee camps – a decision that could affect as many as 600,000 people, according to UNHCR.