In Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee complex in northeast Kenya, Somali refugees are caught in a very delicate and complex situation and Bishop Joseph Alessandro of Garissa, Kenya, is determined to help the world understand their plight.
Bishop Alessandro said the complex’s 245,000 refugees, mainly Muslim Somalis who have fled famine and attacks carried out by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida affiliate in East Africa, face a difficult decision: whether to return to Somalia or remain in the sprawling camp, which the Kenyan government wants to close.
“When they hear not so good stories of those who have returned home, in spite of the incentives, and see the government wanting to close the camp, they don’t find this as an easy situation,” the bishop, who chairs the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Commission on Refugees, Migrants and Seafarers, told Catholic News Service.
“There are reasons why these people are refugees. They have rights as refugees. They will need to be accepted and helped,” he said.
Picture: Somali refugees are seen after arriving in 2011 at a camp in Dadaab, Kenya. In Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee complex in northeast Kenya, Somali refugees are facing the question of whether to return to their homeland or stay and risk being forced to move if the Kenyan government closes the camp. (CNS photo/Dai Kurokawa, EPA).