Police Say Crackdown On Illegal Aliens to Continue
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 4, 2002
Posted to the web June 4, 2002
Kenyan immigration authorities and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are making arrangements to facilitate the transportation of hundreds of refugees whom the police arrested last week in the Kenyan capital,
Nairobi, to refugee camps in the north of the country.
The police were also planning to continue with a "coordinated" search operation in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh, as part of efforts to crack down on "illegal aliens" and to ensure the removal of the refugee population living there to refugee camps as required by law, a senior officer told IRIN.
The Kenyan media reported on Thursday that police in Nairobi had arrested over 843 aliens, mostly from Somalia and
Ethiopia, and recovered powerful communications equipment used by the aliens to communicate with relatives in their respective countries. Those arrested included women and children.
The arrests followed the recent mysterious landing of an aircraft at Wilson Airport, Nairobi, with 21 Somalis - allegedly being smuggled into Kenya for a fee - on board, which sparked a political row about the possible violation of Kenyan airspae12 ce
and the need for increased control of aliens in Kenya.
Simon Kipkeu, the police Officer Commanding Station (OCS) in the Kasarani area of Nairobi, told IRIN on Tuesday that arrangements were in place to take part of the group arrested last week, and who had produced valid refugee documents from
UNHCR, back to Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in northwestern and northeastern Kenya respectively.
Refugees were only allowed to live in camps, where they could receive humanitarian assistance, he said. Kenyan laws only permit refugees to stay out of camps under special circumstances, and only at the request of UNHCR.
Some 400 people who had no valid papers had been taken to court on 31 May, and charged with being in the country illegally, Kipkeu told IRIN.
"Refugees are not supposed to be in Nairobi," he said. "They should be in camps; they are not authorised to be on the streets.
The law is very clear. Who will take care of their needs if they are not in the refugee camps? It means they will be forced to steal for their survival. I don't like that."
"Some of them sell illegal firearms, which is a big threat to our people. Some can even be terrorists. We have a duty to protect our citizens but, at the same time, we sympathise with the refugees," Kipkeu added.
According to the police, many of the refugees had come to Nairobi from Kakuma for interviews with UNHCR, but had chosen to stay on in the city, illegally, afterwards.
Kipkeu said the police would continue with coordinated operations similar to that of last week, which had only combed two of
Eastleigh's 12 streets. The police believed that about 10,000 refugees, mainly of Somali origin, were living in the area illegally, he said.
"Last week's was a very transparent operation," according to Kipkeu. "We did not harass anyone. We went in the area in daytime. We did not go there at night - they would have accused us of raping women or stealing from them. We found hundreds of people without valid documents. You can find up to 10 men living in one room. The operation will continue, but in a more coordinated manner," he added.
Some of the refugees alleged that the police had beaten, intimidated, stolen from and even raped some of their number during the round-up operation.
Kenyan police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said this was "a big lie" and that those with such allegations should bring forward their evidence so that the alleged instances could be investigated.
Meanwhile, a police officer at Gigiri Police Station, where the groups of refugees in possession of UNHCR documents had been kept since last week, told IRIN on Tuesday that the group had also been charged in court for lack of additional documents from Kenya's immigration department, and for living outside their assigned refugee camp.
"There is nobody here. We were only accommodating them. They were taken to court yesterday [Monday]," the officer said.
UNHCR information officer Emmanuel Nyabera told IRIN on Tuesday that his office was ready to provide a bus for the refugees who were to be sent back to Kakuma, and was still involved in negotiations with the police for access to the 400 detainees who had no valid documents.
"Even up to today, we were negotiating to get access to the group without papers, but that has not happened," he said. "We were hoping that they would be considerate to the vulnerable ones like children and women."
"For those who have been referred to Kakuma, UNHCR is ready with transport. What we can't do is to ensure everybody gets on that bus. We have the transport as long as the police can bring them to us," Nyabera added.
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