After grenade attacks, Kenya wants Somali refugees in camps
In light of an uptick in violent attacks in Kenya over the past year, often linked to Somalia's Al-Shabab, Kenya recently ordered all refugees living in its urban areas to move to established refugee camps.
(Page 2 of 2)
Government officials say the measure is necessary in order to avoid future violence and attacks, which have recently been on the rise. Officials say they are convinced Somali militants, including some refugees, are involved in the smuggling of explosives and weapons that are being used to attack security officers, civilians, religious centers, and aid workers in Kenya.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Africa's Hot Spots
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“We hope to arrive at a position where the government[’s] concerns are addressed and the rights of the refuges are protected,” says Emmanuel Nyabera, the UNHCR-Kenya spokesperson.
The attacks – which have targeted churches, the police, public transportation, and most recently, a mosque – have escalated since October 2011 when Kenya sent its troops into Somalia. Soon after troops entered the war torn country to pursue Al-Shabab, the Islamist militants threatened retaliatory attacks on Kenyans.
Analysts say the attacks are reminiscent of those enacted by Nigerian Islamist militants, Boko Haram. According to Maalim Mohammed, Garissa county commissioner, Al-Shabaab has offered $8,000 rewards for the killing of any Kenyan security officer.
“The higher the rank, the higher the pay,” Mr. Mohammed told citizens gathered for Independence Day celebrations on Dec. 12 in Garissa.
'Urge Kenya to reconsider'
In the latest attack, on Sunday, one person suffered injuries after a grenade was hurled from a speeding vehicle at a crowd outside Al-Hidaya Mosque in a Nairobi suburb.
This is the second time an attack has occurred near the mosque in Eastliegh, a suburb known as “Little Mogadishu” because of its large concentration of Somali refugees and Kenyans of the Somali tribe. An Anglican Church was attacked there in September, killing one child.
After a previous attack on the Al-Hidaya Mosque on Dec. 8, the police arrested nearly 600 Somali nationals who were in Nairobi without identification documents. These individuals were nearby when the attack took place and were deemed to be in the country illegally, thus they were treated as suspects in the attack, according to local police.
“It is not every Somali who is involved in the attacks. [The] majority are involved in genuine business, so we urge Kenya to reconsider [their policy] decision. Our children are also going to school here [in towns],” says Ahmed Abdi, a Somali refugee in Nairobi.
This policy comes on the heels of a previous request in September when President Mwai Kibaki appealed to the UN to relocate Somali refugees to areas liberated by African Union troops, providing humanitarian assistance to them while inside their home country of Somalia.