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Closing Dadaab: How the Muslim Ban is affecting Somalis

A travel ban implemented on January 29th, 2017, by executive order, has effectively prohibited citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. on any visa for 90 days; in addition, new refugee applications have been suspended for 120 days.

For Somalis and other asylum seekers, the reality of being barred from the U.S. is harrowing. Within the Horn of Africa there are an approximate 892,794 registered Somali refugees, with 37% seeking refuge in Kenya according to data by the UNHCR.

Of those seeking refuge in Kenya, many have made Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp their home. With a population larger than the City of Burnaby, Dadaab is set to close in May. Data from the UNHCR indicated that the 261,496 residents of Dadaab must be resettled since the camp has become rife with violence, disease, and has become a recruiting ground for Al-Shabab, an Islamist militia group.

Resettling those who live in Dadaab is an arduous process that has just become more difficult with the executive order put in place by the U.S. For refugees who have now lost the option to relocate to America, returning to Somalia means going back to a country that has been in civil war since 1991, as well as confronting an anticipated drought crisis, potential famine, and Al-Shabab attacks.

According to an article by the Guardian, “up to 26,000 [Somalis] who hoped to travel to the U.S. have been hit by the new [executive order]. The total includes those cleared for imminent travel, as well as those whose applications are under review.”

“[Refugees], who have all been rigorously screened by US and UN officials, have waited for between seven and 10 years for their resettlement to be approved and organised.
Some had already checked in for the flight to their new homes in the US when they were told they would not be allowed to board the plane. Others had travelled to Nairobi with children ready to leave. “These are people who have packed their bags, emptied their bank accounts, sold all their goods and said their goodbyes. Then they hear they are not going to the US after all,” said one aid worker in Nairobi.”  see more

While the fate of asylum seekers is very uncertain, PeaceGeeks stands committed to developing technology for peace, and is currently working with partners in order to facilitate refugees’ access to services with our Services Advisor App.

Feb 8, 2017
Category: Issue Briefs