Somalis are returning to Kismayo in a “voluntary” process to a homeland still stricken by war, drought, and hardship.
Reports that suggest ethnic Somalis living in Kenya are being increasingly targeted, detained, and tortured are entirely false, the country’s foreign minister says.
In an interview with Al Jazeera’s UpFront ahead of Kenya’s presidential elections in 2017, Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed also addressed the repatriation of Somali refugees, corruption allegations, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
On the issue of Somalis in Kenya, UpFront host Mehdi Hasan pointed out that many groups – including key ally the United States – are alarmed at what is seen as an increase in torture, harassment, and the detainment of ethnic Somalis.
Mohamed denied hearing about reports – by the US State Department and Human Rights Watch – that raised abuse allegations of Somalis before appearing on UpFront, saying, therefore, she couldn’t verify such claims.
“They’ve just made it up?” Hasan asked.
“They’re making it up,” Mohamed replied.
Answering whether the Kenyan government is repatriating Somali refugees – some of whom have lived in the Dadaab camp for almost 25 years – she said: “We are not violating any obligations. If we were, the whole world would have come down like a tonne of bricks right on our heads.
“We have a tripartite agreement [with UNHCR and the Somali government] that we entered into in 2013 – not yesterday, not today, not the day before.”
The international community, she added, has failed to fulfill its own obligations to address residents of the world’s largest refugee camp.
On allegations of corruption, Hasan pointed to a report that said Kenya was the third most corrupt country in the world.
Mohamed said it is an issue the government is being “self-reflective” about and dealing with. She denied, however, a recent statement by Kenya’s auditor-general that about $2bn in public funds had gone missing.
In Kenya’s ongoing battle against the Somalia-based al-Shabab group, which has attacked Kenya numerous times in recent years, she said: “We’re winning the war in Kenya.”
This UpFront interview airs on Al Jazeera on Friday October 7 at 19:30GMT. Watch it here: aljazeera/com/upfront