The government has kicked off a month-long vetting exercise aimed at delisting 40,000 citizens who had wrongly registered as refugees.
Fred Matiang’I, Interior Cabinet Secretary, said the government is aware of the circumstances under which the citizens registered as refugees since many wanted to get free food rations, free health, education as well as opportunity to relocation aboard.
Matiang’i said while it constitutes offenses punishable under the law, the government has resolved to pardon the concerned persons.
“Many were attracted by the good life in the camps which include free food, medical care and schooling among others, the decision to pardon these people is informed by the fact that majority committed the offenses while they were minors,” he said on Friday through a speech read on his behalf by his assistant Chief Administrative Secretary Patrick Ole Ntutu.
Victims have been struggling to shed refugee tags as they have been denied opportunities and citizenship rights including freedom of movement, right to vote, own a business or get formal employment.
While trying to have fingerprints removed from the UN Refugee Agency(UNHCR) database, locals have fallen victims of cartels who have been demanding substantial amounts as bribe without any success.
Some of the Somali refugees who have lived in the camp for more than two decades have gone back home and some have been resettled in three other camps: Hagardera, Dagahley and Ifo.
According to the UN refugee agency, more than 80,000 Somalis have been repatriated in the past five years under voluntary repatriation exercise.
Magatte Guisse, head of operations at UNHCR Kenya said the exercise to deregister Kenyans from UNHCR is very important as it shows Kenya is committed to finding solutions to the refugee situations.
He said UNHCR will fully support the program and work with relevant government agencies including the local county government.
Garissa Governor Ali Korane said people affected have suffered so much as they have lost so many opportunities including pursuing personal goals, traveling such as going to hajj.
“These people have lost independence, they cannot move around. We believe this move will help so much people, we also urge the local chief and those involved to ensure only genuine Kenyans are deregistered,” he said.