UN Security Council visits Kenya to discuss Somalia

AP News
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Posted: May 20, 2016 1:19 PM
UN Security Council visits Kenya to discuss Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Members of the United Nations Security Council are urging Kenya's government not to forcibly evict refugees from a sprawling camp that is home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis.

The Security Council members met with President Uhuru Kenyatta in the capital, Nairobi, on Friday, Kenya's presidency said in a statement.

Kenya has been the scene of multiple attacks by al-Qaida-linked extremists based in neighboring Somalia.

Kenya announced this month that it would close the refugee camp known as Dadaab, which is often referred to as the world's largest, amid allegations that some violent attacks on Kenya have been planned there.

The decision has been condemned by domestic and international rights groups and the U.N. has urged Kenya to reconsider.

"From the UK perspective it is important that Kenya abides by its international obligations," Matthew Rycroft, the UK ambassador to the U.N., told reporters in Nairobi. "The president has committed to do that. There cannot be forcible return of refugees."

Dadaab, with an estimated 328,000 refugees who are mostly Somali, compromises Kenya's security because it harbors some al-Shabab Islamic extremists and is a conduit for smuggling weapons, Joseph Nkaissery, Kenyan secretary for the interior, said last week.

The Security Council members were in Somalia Thursday to support the country's efforts to hold presidential elections amid deadly violence orchestrated by al-Shabab, which is fighting to rule Somalia according to a strict version of Islam.

The Somali government depends on donor aid to keep running, and on African Union forces, including from Kenya, to keep the al-Shabab fighters at bay.

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Muhumuza reported from Kampala, Uganda.