Kenya shuts down biggest refugee camps over COVID-19 spread

Nairobi, April 30, 2020
Kenya’s Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i has banned exit and entry to one of the biggest refugee camps in the world due to the global COVID-19 health crisis, a report said on Thursday.

The restrictions apply to a complex called Dadaab, which housed about 217,500 migrants, as well the refugee camp Kakuma, where 196,000 people are currently staying, according to data provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Earlier, due to the spread of the COVID-19 infection across the country, Kenya’s President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta prolonged the curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. for another three weeks.

Kenyatta also locked down four regions of Kenya, including the capital and economic hub Nairobi.

The authorities banned all public gatherings in the country after confirming the first corona case on March 13.

“Meanwhile, not all of coronavirus-hit Europe has closed its borders to refugees.

“With EU agencies reportedly preparing to test the new science of predicting and monitoring population movements on refugees and migrants,’’ the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed.

Also, Euronews wrote that mass and partial migrant releases have been seen in Spain, one of the worst pandemic-hit countries, the Netherlands, Indonesia, France, Peru, Thailand, the UK, and the U.S., but many countries are still yet to act.

The clearest examples are Greece and Italy, which came as a surprise given the huge COVID-19 death toll there, two of the main destinations points for migrants crossing into Europe.

“In particular, the Greek islands are known to house quite a few overcrowded centres where families live in fear and desperation, the news agency reported.

No confirmed cases of the coronavirus have yet emerged from Moria, Europe’s largest refugee camp, however medical NGO Médecins Sans Frontières has referred to it as a time bomb.

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