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Kenya: Refoulement of Somali asylum seekers

Briefing notes

Kenya: Refoulement of Somali asylum seekers

3 April 2009

UNHCR wishes to express its concern about the increasing trend by the Kenyan authorities to forcibly return Somali asylum seekers to their country. On Wednesday, 31 March, 31 asylum seekers, including nine men, eight women and 14 children, traveling by bus to Dadaab refugee camps were forcibly returned to Somalia. UNHCR received information from a government official that the military intercepted the bus and took the asylum seekers to Dadaab police station then later escorted the bus back to Dobley, a centre near the Somali border.

When we requested intervention, we were informed that the police and military continue to return asylum seekers to Somalia acting on instructions from the authorities in the Provincial Headquarters in Garissa.

Police in Dadaab also confirmed that there was a similar incident on 23 March where 61 asylum seekers, including 25 woman, 22 men and 14 children were arrested by military officers and taken to Dadaab Police Station and later returned to Liboi. Earlier in January, three asylum seekers were forcibly returned to Somalia by the authorities.

UNHCR has sent a formal complaint to the Minister of Immigration and Registration of persons protesting these actions. Our concern is that despite bringing such cases to the attention of the government, no action has been taken. UNHCR reiterates that the Kenyan government must adhere to and show full respect for the principle of non-refoulement, as enshrined in Kenya's Refugees Act and International Law, with regard to Somali asylum seekers in particular.