Target: President Uhuru Kenyatta
Goal: Cancel the planned closure of the Dadaab Camp, which would result in the displacement of 350,000 refugees.
The Kenyan government has announced that it is planning to close Kenya’s borders to refugees, and close camps within its borders, including the Dadaab camp, which is home to 350,000 people. Kenya hosts an estimated 600,000 refugees, mostly people who have fled violence in Somalia and South Sudan. The government, led by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, cited the heavy economic burden of refugees, environmental concerns, as well as security concerns to support its decision to close the camp.
While it is true that there have been several terrorist attacks on Kenyan soil by Somalia-based Al Shabab militants, the government has yet to produce any evidence to link these terrorist attacks to refugees. In fact, all the individuals that have been prosecuted in connection with these crimes have been Kenyan nationals. Additionally, the forced deportation of people to countries where they face a threat of harm is against both international and Kenyan law.
Refugees are used as scapegoats for economic and social problems throughout the world. As one border after another closes, the countries that have abided by international law come under increased internal pressure as their burden increases. Even if closing the camps does not result in refugees being returned to the countries they fled from, it moves us further down the path to that reality. Sign our petition and ask President Kenyatta to halt plans to close the Kenyan refugee camps.
Dear President Kenyatta,
I was alarmed to hear of your government’s plans to close refugee camps, including the Dadaab camp, and to turn away additional refugees. These acts are against both international and Kenyan law. The idea of returning hundreds of thousand of Somali refugees to Somalia given the current state of the country amounts to consigning large numbers of people to death. Furthermore, it may make any Kenyan operations in Somalia to counter the terrorist group Al Shabab far harder. I urge you to reconsider this policy, and to continue admitting refugees in accordance with international law.
It is also disturbing that refugees are being blamed for Kenya’s security concerns. While Kenya has undoubtedly suffered at the hands of extremist terrorists, there is no evidence that these individuals have any strong links to refugees. In fact, every suspect arrested has been a Kenyan national. It is unconscionable that the most vulnerable should suffer for acts that are unrelated to them.
It is true that Kenya has a high burden of refugees, higher than many wealthier countries. However, this should not be a reason to follow the bad example of countries that are closing their borders, but rather an opportunity for Kenya be a global moral leader. I must urge you not to close Kenya to refugees.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Bjorn Heidenstrom