UNHCR Country Representative Raouf Mazou

UNHCR Country Representative Raouf Mazou

The Deputy President’s directive that the Daadab refugee camp should be closed came in after the Garissa university attack, providing the thinking by government about the camp. It would perhaps be useful to know whether any intelligence report has linked a refugee in the camp to terrorism. In addition, if any refugee is to leave the camp, the process has to be facilitated by the Kenya government.

Raouf Mazou, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee Country Representative shed light into this issue, among others in an interview.

From the over 350, 000 refugees in Daadab, some 335, 000 are from Somalia. Others are from Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Rwanda.

What are the thoughts of refugees about going back home especially Somalis?

The government’s position hasn’t changed and has been for a while and it is very understandable. Some have been therefore been there for over 24 years. But Kenya is also currently active trying to stabilize Somalia through KDF. Finding the Solution is a stable Somalia.

Refugees want to go home but they wonder whether they will find education healthcare and livelihoods coupled with good security. These basic services are critical. There are conversations on how to help return people to specifically where they came from and what kind of assistance can be provided.

What arrangements exists between Kenya and UNHCR in terms of security?

UNHRC has been providing support to government through a program called Security Partnership Program (SPP), initiated in 2012. SPP is about $3.6M a year.The support includes providing vehicles, training of police officers, accommodation, fuel and building police stations. We have been discussing with government on how we can enhance this. This will and has to be done regardless of whether they go back or not.

Any evidence suggesting linking refuges to terrorism attacks

I have not been aware of any evidence linking this. I believe if there was any, there would be measures taken appropriately like arrests.

Some people are uncomfortable with the location since the camp is near the border and the town of Garissa. This has largely been the main issue since the border is near a country currently under violent conflict.

What plans do you have regarding $45M granted by the US government through Secretary John Kerry?

The real solution to Somalia problem is real stability in Somalia. That is where most efforts will be utilized. However some others will be used to improve security management and host management. Host management bare the brunt of these refugees and more will need to be done to provide support to host communities.

How much budget is allocated to run Daadab in a year?

It is about $75M a year, that is according to this years budget. That is UNHCR with its partners.

There was a team formed to manage the situation, please shed more light into it!

There was a tripartite agreement signed in November 2013, it was agreed that a tripartite commission be formed. It would have representatives including from the ministerial level. It will have representatives from governments of Kenya, Somalia and UNHRC.

The commission was formed then but took time to set up but worked informally. So the commission was launched last year on 21st of April at the presence of ministers of foreign affairs from Somalia, Kenya and myself. The commission’s work is to manage the return process in total, review type of assistance and any legal issues that may arise among others.

What considerations will go into going back to Somalia?

Beyond security, the main issue is how fast basic services can be put back. That is an issue of circumstances and not resources as such. A sense of urgency is however critical to informing the process. More importantly, this has to be voluntary, something the tripartite agreement felt is critical.

What kind of support does government provide at the camp?

The investments  made are security personnel like the salary and training they had, the water, land and firewood used by the population and general asylum. No money can compensate for this protection.

How easy is it for a registered refugee to move outside the camp?

Movement outside the camp is restrictive. It requires a movement pass issued on a case by case basis by the Department of Refugees Affairs which is under the Ministry of Interior. They coordinate this with police and local administration like the County Commissioner and sub-county commissioners.