By Lonah Kibet and Kamu Muthoni
Kenya has maintained its stand on repatriation of Somalia refugees, arguing camps have become havens for terrorists.

A general view shows the tented settlement near the Ifo 2 refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, August 29, 2011. Ifo 2, an extension to Dadaab camp, opened on July 14 after Kenya came under international pressure following the declaration of famine in Somalia last month. The Kenyan government opened Dadaab camp, designed for 90,000 refugees, in 1991 as a temporary solution to the civil war across the border. But 20 years on, it hosts 440,000 refugees with no end in sight to the conflict. REUTERS/Eduardo De Francisco (KENYA – Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT DISASTER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) – GM1E78U0CTQ01

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho cited ‘national security against a pervasive and persistent terrorist threat’ for the planned closure of the two largest refugee camps in Dadaab and Kakuma, which have more than 600,000 refugees.

Speaking yesterday as European Union celebrated 66 years of existence, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said failure to repatriate the refugees would be a huge burden for the country.
“We hope to get amicable solutions so that the burden does not lie with the Kenyan tax payer,” said Rotich.

This comes at a time the United Nations is working on a grand-plan to address global refugee crisis, where countries will equally shoulder the burden.

Rotich also called for additional global funding to assist the process, noting by playing host, the country would incur direct and indirect costs including food and shelter among others.

“Our intelligence and security forces have known for a long time that these camps are a dire threat to our people’s security,” said Kibicho.

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“Some of the largest terrorist attacks, such as the 2013 Westgate, have been planned and operationalised from Dadaab. The Al Shabaab terrorist group has been able to take advantage of the camps’ overcrowded and under-resourced conditions and most importantly, the limits to policing United Nations (UN) run sites, to operate with an alarming degree of freedom,” the PS added.

Meanwhile, a UN plan on addressing the global refugee crisis will be published today.

 Resettlement plan

Amnesty International in a media statement said yesterday the plan “could be a game changer if governments back it up with concrete and longstanding commitments.”

Among the issues raised in the plan is resettling at least 10 per cent of the global refugees.

The current population stands at 19.5 million and some of them, Somalis from Somalia and South Sudanese, are sheltered in Kenya.

“The UN plan could be a game-changer, if it manages to deliver a clear, co-ordinated system that will ensure the world’s wealthiest and most powerful countries pull their weight and collectively protect people fleeing war and persecution,” the statement read in part.

Kenya hosts around 600, 000 refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab, making them the largest camps in the world.

Statistics from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate that the world’s poor countries host the largest chunk of refugees as compared to first world countries.