World's biggest refugee camp in Kenya to stay open

The High Court suspended Thursday the Kenyan government's plan to shut down Dadaab.

The High Court in Kenya has blocked the government's bid to close the largest refugee camp in the world.

If this ruling is confirmed, implemented and stops the planned camp closure, it will remove the uncertainty now faced by thousands of refugees, and they will be able to make an informed choice about joining the Voluntary Return Programme or repatriating spontaneously.

The United Nations says nearly 34,000 refugees have returned to Somalia since Kenya announced it would close the Dadaab camp.

The Kenyan government announced in 2016 that they were going to close the complex and repatriate or resettle the refugees living there. This ruling reaffirms Kenya's constitutional and global legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution.

Human rights groups Amnesty International, Kituo cha Sheria, and the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights had challenged the order to close the UN-run Dadaab camp.

Somalia is under inter-clan conflict for past 25 years and swaths of the country are now being controlled by Islamic militant group al-Shabaab.

The ban caused anxiety among Somalis in Dadaab who had been granted entry to the U.S. Dozens of people who were waiting in Nairobi for a flight to the U.S. were sent back the Dadaab camp, according to the Associated Press, although legal barriers to their entry have since been cleared for now.

Kenya's high court announced the ruling Thursday. Amnesty International also confirmed the news on its official Twitter account, saying that the court had said no to the closure of the camp.

But Kiraithe said the government's cardinal responsibility was to provide security for Kenyans.

A new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, took office in Somalia on Wednesday.

More than 250,000 refugees now live in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camps, which were formed as people fled conflict and hunger in Somalia 25 years ago. "This decision is yet another blight on refugee protection globally, where again we see total failure in providing safe haven for people in danger".

However, these fruits rarely reach the local communities and a previous study by the government once found that refugees, who depend mainly on firewood for fuel, leave the areas more environmentally dilapidated than before.

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