Kenya court blocks govt. decision to close world’s largest refugee camp

This photo taken on October 16, 2011 shows Somali boys fetching water from a puddle that was formed after rain at the IFO-2 complex of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. (Photo by AFP)

This photo taken on October 16, 2011 shows Somali boys fetching water from a puddle that was formed after rain at the IFO-2 complex of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. (Photo by AFP)

A court in Kenya has ruled against government’s decision to close the world’s biggest refugee camp, saying refugees from Somalia will face serious risks if they are forced to return to the war-torn country.

Judge John Mativo said Thursday that Kenya’s internal security minister abused his power by ordering the closure of Dadaab, a camp near the border with Somalia that hosts more than 300,000 refugees.

Mativo said the minister and other officials had “acted in excess and in abuse of their power, in violation of the rule of law and in contravention of their oaths of office.”

The judge added that the “discriminatory” order violated Kenya’s constitution, adding that the order was also against international treaties that urge protection of refugees against being returned to a conflict zone.

Stressing that Kenya’s government had not proved Somalia is safe for the return of the refugees, Mativo ordered that the government’s refugee department, which processes asylum requests, had to reopen, saying its closure was “null and void.”

Major international rights groups, including Amnesty International, had severely criticized the government of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for ordering the closure.


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