The removal of names of Garissa residents from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees database is at an advanced stage, a top state official has said.
Northeastern regional commissioner Nicodemus Ndalana urged Garissa leaders to be patient following concerns that the delisting process had dragged.
MPs Mohamed Dahiye (Dadaab), Mohamed Hire (Lagdera), Sofia Abdi Noor (Ijara) and Garissa Woman MP Anab Gure had said that the government was not in a hurry to complete the process and issue the Kenyans ID cards.
Former Governor Nathif Jama and former MPs Mohamed Shidiye, Farah Maalim and several MCAs had joined their colleagues in calling for the speedy resolution of the matter.
They spoke during the commissioning of the Liboi subcounty. The offices were built using the Dadaab CDF kitty. Kipkoech Kigen is the new deputy county commissioner.
Ndalana told the leaders that the delisting was on course and “soon there will be some positive news”.
In November 2019, the government launched a month-long exercise to delist Kenyans from the UNCHR database. Many had registered as refugees to receive free food from aid agencies and get help relocating to the West.
“When the government heeded to our pleas and launched the exercise a year ago, we were a very happy lot both as leaders and those who were affected. Unfortunately, our joy has been short-lived since nothing seems to be moving,” Dahiye said.
“I have tried my best to follow up on the matter through the relevant offices but all I am told is that it is being worked on. Surely until when. We are talking about people who have lost independence. They cannot move around, go to college or even open a bank account,” he added.
Hire urged the government agencies in charge to hasten the process so that the affected get their lives back on track.
Sophia said that it would be wrong for those who are handling the exercise to drag it, saying doing so “was only making the victims life’s more miserable”.
“But I would want to address the elephant in the room: Stories of people saying that the numbers of community A will become more than those of community B once the exercise is finally concluded should neither be here nor there.
“They are Kenyans and should be treated as such because it is their constitutional right. This issue is very sensitive and should not be politicised by anyone for selfish interest,” Sophia said.
The leaders also urged the government to reopen the border with Somalia now that the area is a fully-fledged subcounty. Open borders, they said, will hasten development and deepen ties between the two neighbouring countries.
Dahiye said the move will also stem insecurity, especially by persons targeting security personnel seen as out to stop illicit trade.
The regional commissioner said the reopening of borders is a bilateral matter.
“If there is a designated border point, there must be a mutual agreement between the two countries. That is where the biggest problem is. We cannot open our border whereas our neighbour’s remains closed. This a matter that is being worked on,” Ndalana said.