Somali Refugees Forced Back Into Conflict By Targeted Kenyan Violence

Widespread intimidation and extreme violence are forcing Somali refugees out of Kenya, according to an Amnesty International report issued today.

The toxic combination of harassment, insecurity and extreme pressure in Kenya is forcing Somalia’s most vulnerable out of safety and back into conflict in Somalia.

Sarah Jackson, Amnesty’s Deputy Africa Director said:

“The environment in Kenya is now so hostile that some refugees feel they have no option but to return to Somalia where the ongoing conflict in parts of the country continues to destroy lives. This is tantamount to forced return.

“According to international law, voluntary returns can only take place when safety and dignity is guaranteed. How can this be possible when grave human rights abuses happen on a daily basis in Somalia?”

Life for Somali refugees has been made unbearable. People are denied access to registration which means they are illegally staying in Kenya and they are actively targeted by the police with indiscriminate arrests.

“Here, in Kenya, it’s like a prison,” said Ahmed, a refugee in Dadaab. “At night we can’t leave the house, in the day we might be arrested. It is not currently safe in Somalia, we hear of killings and murder, but the situation here is very desperate… so instead of being here, let me go back.”

In the wake of the Al-Shabab attack on Westgate in Nairobi, the governments of Somalia and Kenya met with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and signed an agreement for the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees to Somalia. This programme is expected to start imminently.

Amnesty International is calling on the Kenyan Government and the UNHCR to protect refugees in Kenya. Both parties are duty bound to ensure returns are truly voluntary and in accordance with international law.

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