On Friday, officials in Kenya indicating that Somali refugee camps were being used as a safe haven for Islamist militants, adding that the time had come for hundreds of thousands of refugees to go home. According to the country’s Interior Minister, Joseph Ole Lenku, “for many years, Kenya has been host to the largest refugee community in the world, we are host to almost 600,000 refugees. We have welcomed, with open arms, refugees fleeing from insecurity in neighboring countries,” adding that “some of these refugees have abused our hospitality and kindness to plan and launch terror attacks from the safety of the refugee camps. This cannot and should not be allowed to continue.” In the wake of last months attack on the Westgate shopping centre, a number of Kenyan officials have pointed the finger at Dadaab, a Somali refugee camp located in the northeastern region of the country which is home to over 4000,000 people who have fled instability in neighboring Somalia. According to these officials, the refugee camp has turned into a “training ground” for Somali extremists. While the Interior Minister did not indicate that the camp should be immediately lose, he did state that Somalia was “now experiencing relative peace” and that Kenya was now “working closely with the government of Somalia and UNCHR to ensure that the repatriation process is as smooth and humane as possible.” Meanwhile the Interior Minister has also confirmed that fifteen immigration officers had been fired in connection with an ongoing tightening of national security after last month’s attack in Nairobi. According to the minister, fifteen officers were fired for issuing “Kenyan identity documents to illegal immigrants thereby endangering national security.” The minister also vowed a complete audit of all identity cards and passports issues in the last years in order to “flush out those who have been issued with illegal passports and other identification documents.”
Meanwhile on Thursday, authorities in Kenya pledged to boost security for the Nairobi marathon, which is due to take place this Sunday. According to Nairobi deputy police chief Moses Ombati, “we have taken this function very seriously, putting into consideration all the threats we have in the country right now,” adding that “we don’t want a repeat of what happened at Westgate, which took all of us by surprise.” According to the police chief, “we have enhanced security right along the 42 kilometer (26 mile) route, both from the air and on the ground, with restrictions at all the key points. There will also be screening of all the participants.” Over 20,000 local and international athletes are expected to take part in the annual marathon race through the streets of the capital. With security forces on high alert, Nairobi is still reeling from the four-day siege on the upmarket Westgate shopping mall.