Stateless refugees fear their fate in Kenya

Published: 8/Jul/2016
Source: eNews Channel Africa

NAIROBI  – As the United Nations begins the verification  of refugees in Dadaab refugee camp, a group of stateless refugees is worried about their own fate.

This week, the United Nations announced that it had begun a verification exercise of refugees living in Kenya as a first step towards the repatriation of Somali refugees by November as demanded by the government of Kenya.

The UN said that the “verification exercise” was necessary to determine how many residents of the Dadaab complex were citizens of Kenya posing as Somali refugees. The UN said locals posed as refugees in order to benefit from handouts.

On June 20, World Refugee Day, senior Kenyan Interior Ministry official Joseph Irungu said that the repatriation was not limited to Somali refugees living in the designated camps but applied to all refugees in urban areas. He asked that all refugees in urban areas return to the designated camps in order to facilitate their repatriation and “avoid conflict with the law”.

The announcement was met with resistance by refugees, human rights groups and even some donor countries – many of which have harsh restrictions on allowing asylum seekers in their own countries, observed the Kenyan official.

The Banyamulenge refugees, living mostly in various towns in Kenya, are an unsettled lot. They are anxious because they have no country they can call home. They say they are rejected by and ejected from every country they go to, except Kenya..

The group claims they feel safe only in Kenya and, even then, only in the urban areas where they claim to be safer than in the refugee camps. They say they are targets for murder and violent attacks when in the camps as other Eastern Africa refugees curiously reject them.

Four Banyamulenge community leaders spoke exclusively to the African News Agency (ANA), revealing the untold, intricate story of their plight. For fear of repercussions, only one community leader allowed ANA to take a photo of him, the other three declined, fearing the consequences media exposure could bring.

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Themes: Nationality and Refugees
Regions: Kenya
Year: 2016