(By Estera Popowska)
Following last weeks incident in which Somali militants from the al-Shabab Islamist movement attacked a college in the Kenyan town of Garissa, killing 148 students, Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto has called on the United Nations to close the Dadaab refugee camp and relocate more than 500,000 Somalis, BBC reported Saturday.
The Kenyan deputy head of state reportedly said UNHCR had three months to close Dadaab and make alternative arrangements for its residents - otherwise, Kenya would “relocate them ourselves”. Speaking on Saturday, Mr Ruto insisted Dadaab should be closed down and its residents moved back to Somalia.“The way America changed after 9/11 is the way Kenya will change after Garissa,”he added.
BBC however reported that the head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Kenya denied being asked to close the camp. Kenya representative for UNHCR, Raouf Mazou, told BBC he heard about Kenyan government's intentions in the news.
Dadaab, which was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in Somalia is the largest refugee camp in Africa. BBC says some people have been living at the site for more than 20 years near the border with Somalia.
Meanwhile, Kenyan MPs and governors have previously accused al-Shabab of hiding out in the Dadaab camp. Al-Shabab was also behind a deadly siege at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in 2013 (Source: BBC)