Kenya: UNHCR concerned about detained Somalis
UNHCR is concerned about the fate of at least 26 Somalis who remain detained at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi. They were among at least 49 Somalis, mainly women and children, who reportedly flew from Mogadishu to Nairobi and then on to Kampala, Uganda, but were returned to Kenya.
The group arrived back in Kenya on Tuesday, 13 November, and were put in detention at the airport. Twenty-three of them were then forcibly returned to Mogadishu on Tuesday without being given the opportunity to request asylum as provided for under international and Kenyan laws.
The Kenyan Refuge Act requires the Government to refrain from forcibly returning people to a place where their lives are in danger. It also grants people the right to present their claim for asylum.
Since Monday, 19 November, UNHCR has repeatedly requested access to the initial group of 49. We have done so verbally at the airport as well as through letters and a note verbale to the Department of Immigration, the Ministry of State for Immigration and Registration of Persons, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To date, however, UNHCR has not been given access to the remaining Somali group.
We have received reliable information that all of the Somalis of the group expressed fear of persecution were they to be returned to Somalia. We are now extremely concerned that the remaining group of 26 Somali nationals at the airport will be returned to the Mogadishu area, where continuing unrest and fighting would put them at extreme risk.
We are urging the Government of Kenya to grant UNHCR teams access to the Somalis at the airport in order to determine their international protection needs and to halt their possible forced return to Mogadishu.