kenya:Kenya has ordered all Somali refugees back into camps
Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenki
“Any refugee found flouting this directive will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said in a statement.
Sunday’s attack, in the Likoni district near Mombasa, came amid heightened warnings of a threat of violence, especially from the Somali al-Shabab armed group, in Kenya despite boosted security in major cities.
Lenku issued the order citing ”emergency security challenges” in Kenyan towns, but the move is likely to be criticised by rights groups which have discouraged similar actions in the past.
Until now, refugees who could support themselves or were in need of specialised education or medical care had been allowed to live in urban areas.
Lenku said “all refugees residing outside the designated refugee camps of Kakuma and Dadaab are hereby directed to return to their respective camps with immediate effect.”
The refugees, around 1.1 million, are required to be housed at Dadaab, close to the Somali border, and at Kakuma, near Kenya’s frontier with South Sudan.
Lenku also said all refugee registration centres in Nairobi, Mombasa, Isiolo to the north and Nakuru in the northwest would be closed. He urged Kenyans to report refugees or illegal immigrants found outside the camps.
Kenyan security officials believe armed groups have used the refugee camps as bases to prepare attacks and then mingled with residents in urban areas to carry them out.
The Somali group al-Shabab and its sympathisers have carried out several attacks in Kenya, including at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last year in which at least 67 people were killed.
On Sunday, gunmen killed six worshippers in a church near the coastal city of Mombasa. Last week, police said they had arrested two men found to have two large bombs in a car which they intended to use in Mombasa.
In January last year, a similar move by the government to relocate an estimated 100,000 urban Somali refugees brought condemnation from the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch.
In November 2012, prior to a plan to restrict Somali refugees to camps, street battles erupted between Kenyans and ethnic Somalis in Eastleigh, a part of Nairobi commonly dubbed ”Little Mogadishu” because of its large Somali population, after a bomb on a minibus killed seven people in the area.
Al-shabab has threatened to carry out further attacks if Kenyan troops do not withdraw from Somalia where they are the insurgents as part of an African Unionpeacekeeping force.
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