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Fate of Somalis who call refugee camp home hangs in balance

DADAAB REFUGEE CAMP, Kenya — Abdalla Osman sits on the ground next to his wife and three children in this sprawling, dusty refugee camp and explains why he wants to stay, even though Kenyan authorities desperately want him to leave.

Photo by: Ben CurtisHundreds of thousands of Somalis at the Dadaab camp entered a voluntary repatriation program in 2017 and 2018, but some born and raised there know no other home. (Associated Press)

He has built a good life in the camp since he escaped Somalia 30 years ago by opening a butcher shop, getting married, having children and creating a home, he said. But the Kenyan government said last month that it wants to shut down this massive United Nations-run camp complex and another to the northwest that together host nearly 440,000 people, a majority of them Somali refugees.

Mr. Osman said Dadaab is the only home he has ever known.

“I had nothing when I arrived at the camp,” he said in a recent interview. “But I have built my life from scratch. I have been able to enroll my children in school using the profits from my business. There’s no way I can accept my children dropping out of school and going back to Somalia.”

Kenyan officials, citing long-standing security concerns, announced plans a month ago to shutter the Dadaab and Kakuma camps for good. The government said it had intelligence reports showing that the two camps had become havens for terrorists and for smugglers and profiteers whose revenue helps bankroll the terrorists.

Source: Washington Times

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