3,000 Dadaab refugees stuck as Jubaland blocks their entry

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An estimated 3,000 Somali refugees yesterday were stranded at the Dadaab camp and at the Kenya-Somali border after the Jubaland administration blocked their return.

Conditions are reported to be “very bad”. The refugees were to be resettle in Jubaland, following Kenya’s announcement to close Dadaab.

Yesterday, independent journalist Mohammed Baruud in Dadaab said the refugees’ shelters were demolished in anticipation of their relocation to Somalia. At least 1,200 refugees, mainly women and children, are displaced at the Dhobley point after Jubaland police denied them entry.

Dhobley is in Baardheere district in Lower Juba along the Kenya-Somali border. “Those at the camp remain displaced. Those who moved are stopped. They remain in a very bad state of affairs,” he told the Star on the phone from the camp.

Halima Hassan, a mother of six, said she is frustrated. She said they packed their belongings but cannot go back to Somalia. All buses to Somalia were suspended, following the order by Jubaland.

The refugees have also been struck off the UN refugee agency’s database, meaning they are likely to be left without food rations and other essentials.

On Tuesday, Jubaland minister for Interior Mohamed Darwish, said his administration would not take more refugees, citing inadequate humanitarian support and “security risk”. “We have decided to suspend the returnees’ movement because thousands who are already in cities like Kismayo port town, the region’s main city, are facing severe humanitarian problems,” he said.

Reached for comment, UNHCR’s senior external relations officer at Dadaab Julien Navier said he was in a meeting. He had not communicated by press time.

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