General Information

Motion for a resolution on Dadaab refugee camp – B8-2017-0336

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

–  having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981,

–  having regard to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951, to which Kenya is a party,

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–  having regard to the Nairobi Declaration of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) of 25 March 2017 on Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees and Reintegration of Returnees in Somalia,

–  having regard to the UN New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted on 19 September 2016,

–  having regard to the joint communiqué issued by the Tripartite Ministerial Commission for the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees in Kenya on 25 June 2016,

–  having regard to the outcome of the Valetta summit of 15 November 2015 on migration,

–  having regard to the declaration of 28 November 2014 of the Ministerial Conference of the Khartoum Process,

–  having regard to the Tripartite Agreement between the Governments of Somalia and Kenya and the UNHCR on voluntary repatriations signed in November 2013,

–  having regard to the EU’s emergency Africa Trust Fund,

–  having regard to the UN Global Compact on Responsibility Sharing for Refugees,

–  having regard to the EU’s humanitarian financing of the response to refugees in Kenya,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Kenya, in particular that of 30 April 2015,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas, despite its vast natural resources, the Horn of Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world; whereas food security is extremely precarious there, and whereas millions of people living in the region suffer from malnutrition and are at risk of famine;

B.  whereas the countries in the region are currently facing the worst drought in 60 years, which has worsened the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen and which could cause a region-wide famine; whereas Kenya suffers recurrent droughts, particularly in the arid and semi-arid northern parts of the country, where 5.5 million people live, most of them small livestock farmers who are in a particularly vulnerable position and experience chronic poverty; whereas climate change is having a devastating impact on pastoralism, the nomadic way of life of many people in the region;

C.  whereas Kenya has the largest economy in East Africa, but, despite its considerable resources, has one of the lowest rankings in the human development index; whereas the majority of Kenya’s population live below the poverty threshold; whereas Kenya’s economy suffers endemic problems as a result of the monopolisation of resources by a minority of individuals; whereas 94.8% of all farms in Kenya are small farms, but they have access to only 11.7% of the country’s farmland; whereas Africa has recently suffered a wave of land grabs, which have left millions of hectares of fertile farmland in the hands of large undertakings, thereby depriving tens of thousands of farming communities of their means of subsistence; whereas Kenya’s main agricultural and fisheries exports to the European Union are tea, coffee, roses and carnations, green beans, peas, avocados, Nile perch and tuna; whereas in Kenya 500 000 hectares of land are being used to produce biofuels by undertakings from Canada, Japan and Belgium, with major repercussions for the environment and local communities;

D.  whereas since the US intervention in 1992 – Operation ‘Restore Hope’ – Somalia has been a war zone; whereas one major factor in the conflict between Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya is the colonial-era borders, as the bulk of the Somali population was split between these three countries, a situation which has led to a number of disputes and, in particular, the massacre of several thousand Kenyans of Somali origin by the Kenyan army in the 1980s;

E.  whereas the Nairobi global plan of action adopted at the summit of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) on 26 March 2017 stressed that drought and the armed conflicts were the two reasons for the displacement of persons in the region;

F.  whereas the multitude of parties involved in the civil war, the lack of a government in Somalia, the loss by Somali fishermen of their means of subsistence, the acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, the tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia and between Eritrea and Djibouti, the participation of Kenya and other neighbouring countries in the African Union force deployed in Somalia, the interference and intervention by outside parties and the economic and geostrategic interests of the European Union and other western parties are all factors which are helping to make the Horn of Africa one of the most conflict-stricken regions in the world; whereas the UN arms embargo has repeatedly been breached;

G.  whereas, with a rapidly growing population of nearly 250 million, the Horn of Africa region has more internally displaced persons and refugees than any other region in Africa and one of the largest numbers in the world; whereas on 31 March 2017 the number of refugees and asylum seekers registered by the UNHCR in Kenya was 486 037;

H.  whereas the refugee complex at Dadaab was set up in 1991 for around 90 000 people as a temporary solution for those seeking refuge and fleeing persecution, violence and instability in East Africa and particularly the civil war in Somalia; whereas in 2011 the resurgence of conflicts and local famines forced millions of people to leave Somalia, leading to the mass arrival of refugees at Dadaab, where more than 308 000 registered Somalis are currently living in a refugee camp; whereas, according to UN estimates, Dadaab currently has a population of around 260 000 people, 95% of who come from Somalia and 60% of whom are aged under 18; whereas the complex currently comprises five different zones, housing different peoples, which extend over an area of 50 square kilometres; whereas the oldest camps, and those with the largest populations, are Hagadera, Dagahaley and Ifo;

I.  whereas the plight of the Somali refugees has persisted for more than three decades, and a third generation of refugees have been born in exile; whereas nearly a million Somalis are displaced within the region, and a further 1.1 million are displaced inside Somalia itself; whereas Somalia is one of the five countries from which the most refugees have come in the past 15 years, a figure currently put at 1.1 million, more than 80% of whom are living in the Horn of Africa and the Yemen region;

J.  whereas, after the terrorist attack on Garissa university in April 2015, Kenya’s Vice-President, William Ruto, issued an ultimatum to the United Nations, urging the Human Rights Council to close Dadaab refugee camp within three months, failing which Kenya would close it itself; whereas the Human Rights Council has warned that the closure of the camp would have disastrous humanitarian and practical consequences; whereas the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees prohibits refoulement of refugees to regions where their lives or liberty are threatened; whereas the construction of a wall separating Somalia and Kenya has also been suggested;

K.  whereas in May 2016 Kenya shut down its department of refugee affairs, which was responsible for conducting censuses, with the result that tens of thousands of people have not been registered; whereas on 6 May 2016 the Kenyan Government announced its decision to close Dadaab soon, invoking security reasons and the need to put an end to the long-term refugee problem in the region;

L.  whereas the Kenyan authorities, with the support of UNHCR officials, then speeded up the implementation of a ‘voluntary’ repatriation programme dating from 2013; whereas many NGOs and international actors have condemned the fact that the repatriation programme established by Kenya for Somali refugees, in a climate of fear and disinformation, did not meet international criteria for the voluntary return of refugees; whereas in August 2016 the Somali authorities in Jubaland were forced to deal with a wave of returnees to the regional capital, Kismayo; whereas, according to the UNHCR, 70% of them were children;

M.  whereas in November 2016 the Kenyan Government announced that the closure would be delayed by six months, i.e. until May 2017, for ‘humanitarian reasons’, at the urging of the international community; whereas on 9 February 2017, in response to a petition by two Kenyan human rights organisations (the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo Cha Sheria), the High Court in Nairobi ruled that the Kenyan Government’s decision to close Dadaab refugee camp was discriminatory and amounted to an arbitrary and disproportionate collective punishment;

N.  whereas the closure of Dadaab would have repercussions for all neighbouring countries, particularly Ethiopia, which currently has some 245 000 Somali refugees on its territory;

O.  whereas the ever more serious shortage of resources and the decline in the number of international donors are having a direct impact on the situation of refugees in Dadaab, in particular in the form of reductions in food rations and a lack of access to medical care and services or to training and education;

P.  whereas in March 2017 the UNHCR estimated that it needed USD 215 200 000 to ‘manage’ the 486 037 displaced persons in Kenya in an acceptable manner; whereas only 15% of the funds required have so far been secured; whereas in the light of the geopolitical situation in the region the UNHCR is anticipating 27 598 new arrivals;

Q.  whereas education, literacy, women’s rights, social justice and the fair distribution of state revenues, reducing inequality and the fight against corruption are central to good governance and to combating fundamentalism, violence and intolerance;

R.  whereas between 2014 and 2020 the European Union will provide EUR 435 million in aid to Kenya; whereas the Union is the party that provides the most financial aid to the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM), through the Africa Aid Fund; whereas the Union is conducting a number of civil and military operations in the region, such as the European Union Maritime Capacity Building Mission to Somalia (EUCAP Nestor), conducted within the framework of the CSDP (since 2012), the European Union military operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast (EU NAVFOR) (since 2008) and the European Union Training Mission Somalia (EUTM Somalia) (since 2010); whereas the USA is occupying the Manda Bay naval base in Kenya; having regard to the destabilising actions of NATO and the United States in the region;

1.  Expresses grave concern at the situation of refugees in the Horn of Africa, in particular in Kenya and the Dadaab camp; welcomes the Nairobi High Court’s judgment declaring the decision by the Government of the Republic of Kenya to close the Dadaab refugee camp null and void; calls on the country’s authorities to comply with that ruling;

2.  Stresses that, so long as instability persists in the region as a whole, refugees will be unable to return home; stresses, similarly, that a regional response is needed to ensure continuing protection of the Dadaab camp and, more generally, of all refugees in the country;

3.  Expresses serious disquiet at the ‘voluntary return’ strategy in force since 2013; calls for full light to be shed on the intimidation, scare tactics and disinformation that have allegedly been employed, including the UNHCR’s role in implementing these policies;

4.  Notes the adoption in Nairobi of the worldwide and regional plan of action, which provides for the gradual closure of the camps so that refugees have access to employment and services in their host country and can to move around freely; stresses that it is important that these closures should be carried out in a manner fully consistent with human rights which does not further undermine the living conditions of the persons concerned;

5.  Stresses that growing poverty, deteriorating economic prospects, widening inequalities and the limited availability of education have swelled the ranks of the unemployed, thus creating a socioeconomic environment conducive to the development of terrorism; notes with concern that, in many parts of their countries, the Somali and Kenyan States do not provide essential public services, such as water supply, waste water treatment, health care or education; urges the Kenyan and Somali authorities, therefore, to address socioeconomic problems and combat deteriorating living standards in order to ensure social justice;

6.  Calls on the EU to release the emergency humanitarian aid needed to cope with the refugee problem and the famine in the region; calls on the EU to increase the proportion of official development aid (ODA) earmarked for agriculture and increase ODA to fund investment in sustainable small farming and pastoralism, thereby guaranteeing access to land for small farmers and thus strengthening the local market, enhancing food sovereignty in the Horn of Africa and helping to regenerate the waters off the Horn of Africa, in order to safeguard the livelihoods of fishermen and their families;

7.  Urges that the provision of development aid should not be used as a pretext for insisting that borders be closed or controlled or that migrants be readmitted; calls for the aid provided by the EU and the Member States in the Horn of Africa to be used, as a matter of priority, to address problems linked to severe inequalities, poverty, chronic malnutrition, access to health and public services, particularly reproductive healthcare, and the achievement of sustainable development goals; calls, similarly, for food aid to be increased and to be used, as a matter of priority, to buy food from local small farmers; strongly opposes the use of the EDF to fund the training of law-enforcement or military forces;

8.  Opposes any attempt to outsource the EU’s migration policies to third countries; condemns the fact that the Khartoum process, in which Kenya and Somalia are stakeholders, does absolutely nothing to tackle the underlying causes of migration; believes those policies to be at odds with the right to freedom of movement, the right of asylum and, more broadly, the rights of migrants laid down in international conventions;

9.  Calls for aid from the EU and its Member States to be provided in the form of grants rather than loans, so as not to add to the debt burden; deplores the fact that many EU Member States have not met the target of earmarking 0.7% of GNI for development aid and that some have reduced the percentage that they spend on such aid; deplores the fact that Member States are cutting back their involvement in food aid programmes;

10.  Strongly criticises the role played by the various Western interventions in recent years, which have fostered the radicalisation of some inhabitants of the Horn of Africa; stresses that such policies promote terrorism rather than combating it; is concerned at the focus on military ‘solutions’ in European counter-terrorism policies, as a result of which numerous programmes involving the provision of military assistance to the countries of the Horn of Africa are being carried out; emphasises that there can be no military solution to the conflicts in the region;

11.  Calls on the EU and the international community to cooperate with African countries and regional and international actors to resolve the conflicts by strictly peaceful means, in particular by tackling their underlying causes; calls on the EU to establish a new framework for relations with Kenya and all African countries, which is based on non-intervention in their internal affairs and respect for their sovereignty and which seeks to support the development of neighbouring regions and promote employment and education, rather than on ‘association agreements’ which serve mainly to establish free trade areas that benefit Western corporate interests;

12.  Reiterates that the activities of European companies present in third countries must be entirely consistent with international human rights standards; calls, therefore, on the Member States to ensure that companies which are subject to their national law do not disregard human rights or the social, health and environmental standards to which they are subject when they set up subsidiaries, or do business, in a third country; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take the requisite action against European companies which do not comply with those standards or which do not adequately compensate victims of human rights violations for which they are directly or indirectly responsible;

13.  Calls on the Kenyan Government and the governments of the countries of origin of mining companies to require those companies to adopt good practices with regard to transparency, responsibility and public consultation, and to combat corruption in the mining industry;

14.  Considers that measures to combat land grabs by multinational and in particular European undertakings are vital as a means of safeguarding decent living conditions for local people and of promoting food sovereignty in the countries in the Horn of Africa; calls, therefore, for this question to be the subject of a specific, key dialogue between the EU and the countries in the Horn of Africa;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European External Action Service, the Commission, the Council, the European Union Member States, the countries in the Horn of Africa, the Pan-African Parliament and the members of the United Nations General Assembly.