Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi has called on the government to follow through the repatriation of Somali refugees with concurrent KDF withdraw from Somalia.
Mudavadi said the closure of Dabaab refugee camp in Garisssa County and planned repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya assumes Somalia is stable and therefore should be accompanied by a recall of Kenyan forces from Somalia.
“If the government argues that Somalia has stabilised enough for refugees to be safe upon return, then there will be no reason to keep our forces in Somalia. The government owes it to Kenyans to explain why we should retain our forces there if the country is safe enough for refugees to return”, said Mudavadi.
“If indeed the situation in Somalia is safe for refugees, then what will our soldiers be still doing in Somalia? Shouldn’t we be bringing them back home too?” he asked adding already other Amison states like Uganda have announced an exit strategy.
He said so far the closure of the camp and the repatriation is based on Kenya government reprimand of the international community for reneging of pledges to support refugee maintenance and Amison and less on humanitarian concerns.
“We cannot afford to handle the Somali crisis by playing nasty or sulking against our partners. The fact that we have not received pledges of financial support should not force us to endanger our security”, he said.
Mudavadi cautioned that hasty withdraw from Amison due anger over lack of international support could spell disaster for Kenya’s internal security.
“Kenya didn’t enter Somalia to please anyone but to protect the country from external aggression. Government should not therefore engage in a sulking withdraw because we are annoyed with somebody. That would be naïve and counterproductive”, he said.
The ANC leader who was addressing North Eastern leaders at Breaking the Fast (Iftur) dinner in Nairobi on Saturday night said that Kenya’s security is our responsibility and cannot be outsourced to the goodwill of other nations.
“Kenya has every reason to worry about a growing burden of hosting a large population of refugees for over 25 years without support from the international community. Worse still, they have defaulted on their promise too fund stabilisation of Somalia where unfortunately the collateral damage is shouldered by Kenya”, he said accusing the international community notion that Somalia will forever be a failed state run on humanitarian intervention.
Mudavadi doubted government security concerns especially related to profiling Dabaab Camp as a haven for Al Shabaab recruits saying radicalisation and Al Shabaab culprits are spread in Kenya cautioning that repatriation of such a large reluctant population to insecure environment could court disaster for security in Kenya.
“My concern is whether we are solving our security situation by repatriating thousands of disgruntled people back into a hostile environment and offering Al Shabaab a pool of recruits?” he asked.
Mudavadi asked the government to also cushion residence of North Eastern against the impact of Dabaab Camp.
“We are closing the camp without an impact assessment on losses and gains which would tell us possibility of reparations due to the local community”, he said.
Elsewhere, Kakamega Senator Bonnie Khalwale has urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to withdraw the Kenya Defense Forces soldiers from Somalia.
Khalwale asked the President to bring the soldiers back home to guard the country’s border instead of remaining in the horn of Africa nation.
The senator was addressing mourners during the burial of the late Jekonia Apwoka a bodaboda operator who was shot dead by police in Sichirai village Kakamega County a week ago.
Khalwale said KDF’s role in Somalia was not clearly defined noting that there should be a clear exit strategy for the soldiers and their immediate redeployment to Kenya’s borders that are in dire need of tight security.
He stated that whereas Uganda has announced to withdraw their troops from Somalia by next year, the President should tell Kenyans how he intends to follow suit.