Following on the heels of the horrific attack on Kenya’s Garissa University College by Al-Shabaab gunmen, which left 147 people dead, Kenya has been desperate for answers and to prevent future tragedies from occurring at the hands of radicals such as Al-Shabaab.
Last Saturday, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto demanded one thing of the UN- relocate the Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp within three months or Kenyan officials would should the UN refuse to act.
Kenyan officials now believe that part of Al-Shabaab’s vast network of “terrorists” extends into the Dadaab camp itself. The UN manages the Dadaab refugee camp complex, the world’s largest refugee camp, establishing the first three camps in the complex in 1991 during Somalia’s civil war. Over 600,000 Somalian refugees now live at the camps.
Where the camps should be moved to, no one knows. But chances are likely that if the camps are moved, they’ll be relocated somewhere back in Somalia as opposed to anywhere in Kenya. Already, the Somalian survivors who make Dadaab their home already face difficult conditions from droughts to contagious diseases. Still, perhaps it’s a better than life back in Somalia, where violence carried out by Al-Shabaab, who are based in Somalia, occurs on a regular basis.
Al-Shabaab, however, does not restrict attacks to Somalia. Along with Garissa, Al-Shabaab carried out an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall in 2013, which left over 65 people dead. Kenyan officials believe Al-Shabaab members are using the Dadaab refugee camps to travel between the Somalian and Kenyan border. A vast network of Al-Shabaab sympathizers is believed to live throughout the refugee complex.
But moving the camp isn’t the only move Kenya is considering. In order to restrict unwanted travel between Kenya and Somalia, Kenya is considering building a 700-kilometer wall that will cover most of the Somalian border. Kenyan airstrikes on Al-Shabaab camps have also followed after the Garissa shootings. William Ruto, who is the second most powerful government official in Kenya next to President Uhuru Kenyatta, indicates that he is willing to lose business with Somalia if it means securing his country from future tragedies.
Watch this short video on a public health initiative in Gambia in West Africa: