U.S. cautions against misuse of refugee camp for combatant recruitment base

14:25, March 31, 2010      

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The United States government said Tuesday that no refugee camp should be used as recruitment base for combatants in the ongoing civil war in neighboring Somalia.

Addressing a news conference in Nairobi after touring the Dadaab Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration Reuben Brigety outlined that Somali refugees' rights should be observed and that they needed to be treated with civility.

"I have come to reiterate the United States' commitment to working in partnership with the government and people of Kenya to provide a safe refuge for Somali and other refugees," Brigety told journalists in Nairobi. "I am also here to demonstrate concern on security issues and concern about the survival of refugees."

The Dadaab Camp, which is home to over 267,000, has the biggest number of protracted refugees in the world and the number is still rising.

The American envoy said Al Shabaab, which has been branded as a terrorist group by the U.S. and Somali governments with claims that the movement was linked to Al Qaeda, was not concerned about the well-being of Somali civilians because they had retorted to various tactics of extortion and harm to relief and humanitarian agencies.

Brigety hoped the looming elections and the referendum in the Sudan will be peaceful so as to avoid an influx of more refugees into Kenya that will further stretch resources. "I have not come to prepare Kenya, but to renew working relationships with various humanitarian agencies," he stressed. The Under secretary was in Kenya for three days from March 28 to March 30.

Source: Xinhua
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