On Monday I retweeted a comment by @Ramah_Nyang “@Ramah_Nyang: Doesn’t matter how you frame it, this is a forceful eviction. Not smart, GoK. This is pretty dumb. http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-144870/lenku-closes-dadaab-tells-refugees-goodbye … ” Dialogue on repatriation started on my TL. I have storified the conversation find it here.
There has been alot of talk about the refugees being asked to return to Somalia. Some are for it, others are firmly against it. I am firmly in the camp that this should be a volunteer exercise for now. I have concerns about the camps and their impact not just on security but on the health of the nation as well. Polio has come back to Kenya because of Somalis who had not been immunized. But even with those concerns I know that the refugees have gone through so much. None of them wanted to be refugees. it is not a prestigious thing, sleeping in a tent or make shift structures and depending on others to feed you.
Many of the refugees lost loved ones trying to reach the heaven that they thought Dadaab is. They knew that at least there will be food there, some shelter and some protection from the harsh conditions in Somalia both natural and man made. I think it would be sad if we act without compassion for these people, who like the rest of us are just fighting to stay alive. Many have had their homes bombed, others have had their families killed, others have watched their children die from hunger and others have experienced violence both physical and sexual in Somalia. The camp isn’t the ideal place to live but at least they have some sort of shelter and food.
5 years ago we almost became refugees in other countries because of a disputed election. Heck some people are still refugees in other countries, fleeing the violence and they have never returned. We still have (5 years later) IDP’s in this country. If mediators had not stepped in who knows where Kenya would have been. Let us face the truth is the leaders were (probably) having tea, and playing golf while the country burned. None of the leaders put an effort to stop the violence. it is only until there was signing of documents that the violence stopped. Meaning that when it was in the interest of the leaders the violence stopped. There were people who could afford it who fled with their families leaving the rest of us to deal with the mess.
I could have been a refugee but for the grace of God. So I extend the same grace to those who need it. The refugees need protection, they deserve protection. They dont deserve to be thrown out of Kenya like they are last week’s newspaper.
Many Kenyans left the country as refugees during Moi’s time. Many of them sneaked out in the middle of the night to get away. Many were granted asylum in other countries and even given citizenship. Some of those are the ones who fought for our “second” liberation. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who stood with us and for us during difficult times.
Kenya has hosted many refugees from different countries during crisis in their own countries. We have had refugees from Rwanda, Congo, Sudan, Eritrea and even from Uganda at the height of Idi Amin’s rule. We have always been considered to be the anchor in this region.
We have hosted Sudanese refugees and helped them get back on their feet when they have gotten their independence. We have been that caring big brother who helps out the younger children. This is not the time to go back on our responsibilities and kick out our younger brother/Sister from the safety of the fireplace and where the food is to stand out in the cold where there is no guarantee of survival. At least not for now. The people who will suffer the most are the women and children.
We should as Jesus said “be our brother’s Keeper!”