Kenya will close world's biggest refugee camp this year

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World's largest refugee camp, Dadaab in Kenya
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Kenya will close world's biggest refugee camp this year
An aerial view shows makeshift shelters at the Dagahaley camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border in Garissa County, Kenya, April 3, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
A Somali refugee waits to be registered by the United Nations High Commission of Refugees at Dagahaley camp in Dadaab in Kenya's northeastern province, June 3, 2009. Weeks of intense fighting in Somalia has driven mor than 100,000 people from their homes, swelling camps on the Kenyan border that are already the largest and oldest in the world, sheltering more than 270,000 Somali refugees. Picture taken June 3, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (KENYA CONFLICT SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Somali refugees look through a barbwire fence of a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) distribution centre during a food distribution exercise in Dagahale, one of the several refugee settlements in Dadaab, Garissa County, northeastern Kenya, October 8, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Children sing a song of welcome at a primary school in Dagahale, one of several refugee settlements in Dadaab, Garissa County, northeastern Kenya, October 9, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY EDUCATION)
Refugees who have been living in the outskirts of the proper camps in Hagadera gather their belongings onto trucks as they choose to relocate to the newly-opened Kambioos settlement, at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, August 29, 2011. The UN High Commission for Refugees continues to regularly log more than 1,000 new arrivals from Somalia each day as the region's famine crisis continues. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY POVERTY DISASTER POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
An unidentified severely malnourished Somali refugee child rests inside a ward at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital at the Dagahale refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa County, Kenya, July 28, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
Children walk together amongst makeshift homes, or "tukuls", in the outskirts of Dagahaley settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi, near the Somali border, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
An aerial picture shows a section of the Hagadera camp in Dadaab near the Kenya-Somalia border, May 8, 2015. Kenya's government threatened to close the Dadaab refugee camp, which with about 350,000 Somali refugees is the world's biggest refugee camp, as a security risk. The United Nations refugee agency urged Kenya to reconsider an order to close the teeming Dadaab refugee camp, warning that sending Somali refugees back to their homeland would have "extreme humanitarian and practical consequences". REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Somali refugees unload their belongings as they arrive by bus at the reception center in Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY)
Women converse during a distribution exercise at a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) centre in Dagahale, one of the several refugee settlements in Dadaab, Garissa County, northeastern Kenya, October 8, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY)
The sun sets over the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa County, Kenya, July 31, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
Thousands of Somali refugees pray during celebrations of the Eid al-Fitr in the Ifo marketplace at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, August 30, 2011. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY POVERTY RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Somali refugee child Aden Mohamed, 1, sleeps next to his mother Salat Saharlo as he receives treatment for complications from severe malnourishment in the stabilization unit of the International Rescue Committee hospital at Hagadera settlement in Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH)
A malnourished Somali child is wrapped in an American "Stars and Stripes" cloth at a therapeutic feeding center at Dagahaley camp in Dadaab in Kenya's northeastern province, June 8, 2009. Weeks of intense fighting in Somalia has driven mor than 100,000 people from their homes, swelling camps on the Kenyan border that are already the largest and oldest in the world, sheltering more than 270,000 Somali refugees. Picture taken June 8, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (KENYA CONFLICT SOCIETY HEALTH IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE: ALSO SEE GM1E57T1QAN01
Somali refugees receive a portion of wheat flour at the World Food Program distribution center in the Ifo settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011. According to WFP, they feed around 450,000 people via biweekly distributions at the Dadaab camps, which are the world's largest refugee operation. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY)
Somali refugee child Fatuma Dayoo is treated in the stabilization unit for complications from severe malnourishment, in the International Rescue Committee hospital at Hagadera settlement in Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A newly arrived refugee child drinks inside their tent in Baley settlement near the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa County, Kenya July 27, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
A radio presenter prepares to talk on air during a live interview at the "Gargaar" (Help in Somali) Star FM, a local radio station for refugee voices at a UNHCR field office in Hagadera, one of the several refugee settlements in Dadaab, Garissa County, northeastern Kenya, October 8, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola (KENYA - Tags: MEDIA SOCIETY)
Somali refugee boys play soccer during sunset at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border July 29, 2011. The whole of drought- and conflict-wracked southern Somalia is heading into famine as the Horn of Africa food crisis deepens, the United Nations said on Friday. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Siyad Ali, 2, a severely malnourished refugee from Somalia, cries after receiving treatment inside the stabilization ward in the International Rescue Committee (IRC) clinic at the Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 30, 2011. The whole of drought- and conflict-wracked southern Somalia is heading into famine as the Horn of Africa food crisis deepens, the United Nations said. In a report for countries sending aid, the U.N.'s umbrella humanitarian agency OCHA said the "crisis in southern Somalia is expected to continue to worsen through 2011, with all areas of the south slipping into famine". REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY CIVIL UNREST DISASTER ENVIRONMENT HEALTH IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A Somali refugee woman carrying a baby disembarks from a bus at the Ifo reception center at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, September 1, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY)
Newly arrived Somali men jostle to queue outside a food distribution centre at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, in Garissa County, Kenya, August 1, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
Somali refugee child Mohamed Abdullah, 1, drinks specialized baby formula as part of treatment for complications from severe malnourishment in the stabilization unit of the International Rescue Committee hospital at Hagadera settlement in Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi near the Somali border, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY HEALTH)
Men walk away from the outskirts of Dagahaley settlement at Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp, situated northeast of the capital Nairobi, near the Somali border, August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (KENYA - Tags: SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
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ISTANBUL, May 23 (Reuters) - Kenya will close the world's largest refugee camp this year because the facility housing Somalis displaced by decades of war poses an "existential threat," Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said on Monday.

The United Nations and Western states have warned against forcibly repatriating the 350,000 or so Somalis who still live in the sprawling Dadaab camp in northeast Kenya, saying it would violate international obligations.

But Ruto, speaking at a U.N. humanitarian summit in Istanbul, said the international community had failed Somalia, still struggling to recover from the anarchy of the 1990s.

"The refugee camp poses an existential security threat to Kenya," he said, arguing attacks including the Westgate mall rampage in 2013 and the Garissa University massacre in 2015, which claimed hundreds of lives, were planned at Dadaab.

Kenya Is Closing All Its Refugee Camps, Displacing 600,000

Now those extremists pose a global risk, he told Reuters.

"There is radicalisation by extremist elements in the camp, especially of young people," he said. "Their recruitment into terror networks, including al Shabaab and al Qaeda, is a threat to the world ... The route to (Islamic State) is established."

Ruto, who was due to meet U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the Istanbul summit, expressed frustration that other states have lagged on pledges to rebuild Somalia. He said Kenya has spent $7 billion on Dadaab over the past quarter century.

"We understand well our international obligations," he said. "We have unfortunately ... not seen a shared responsibility in Somalia. We not only risk leaving Somalia behind, we risk forgetting Somalia all together."

Kenya wants the international community to build schools and other infrastructure across the border to lure refugees back.

The government has previously threatened to eject refugees, but this time it will stick with a deadline expiring in six months that was agreed with Somalia and the U.N., Ruto said.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said in January it might miss a 2016 target to repatriate 50,000 refugees because the Somali government is battling the al Shabaab insurgency and provides few public services. Somalia is slowly rebuilding and is due to elect a new parliament in August.

Ruto said exiled communities were needed for the recovery: "It would not be possible to comprehensively work on peace, reconciliation and stability without the participation of the almost 1 million refugees who currently live in our country."

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