UNHCR issues urgent appeal to Kenya to halt refoulement of Somali refugees
UNHCR appeals to the Kenyan authorities to immediately halt its returns of Somalis from the Border Point 1 camp at Mandera in northeast Kenya. This is light of orders issued by local authorities to the more than 8000 refugees at the camp, telling them to cross the border back into Somalia. As of yesterday some refugees had proceeded into no-man's land.
UNHCR, in its advice to governments, has made clear that people fleeing central and southern Somalia are at substantial risk and that their international protection needs must be respected. The population at the Border Point 1 camp mainly comprises children, women, and the elderly - all of whom have fled there to escape recent fighting between Al-Shabaab and Ahlu Sunna Wal Janaa forces in the Somali town of Bulla Hawa.
Kenya has for many years been generous host to many thousands of Somali refugees. To be forcibly returning people to Somalia now betrays that spirit, places lives at risk, and contravenes the principles of non-refoulement - or no forced return - that are contained in Kenya's Constitution, its Refugees Act, and in international refugee law. We urge Kenya's government to urgently halt further returns and allow those in no-man's land to come back.