Civil society and human rights groups globally have denounced the move of the Government of Kenya to force urban refugees into camps, and rejected the notion that the move must be made to ensure national security. The Government directive came in December, and brought immediate ramifications for refugees and asylum seekers.

The Urban Refugee Protection Network, a network of civil society groups in Kenya, has reported that the Government announcement and subsequent media coverage has aggravated xenophobic attitudes, resulting in a dramatic increase in attacks on refugees and asylum seekers. IDC member, the Refugee Consortium of Kenya, reported seeing ‘an increase in police-round ups, arbitrary arrests and harassment of refugees and persons of specific ethnicities by security officers in Nairobi (and) documented reports of extortion, physical abuse and loss of property.”

In January, Kenyan NGO Kituo Cha Sheria successfully gained an interim court order prohibiting the government from implementing the urban refugee directive. It is yet to be seen whether the directive will be permanently halted, with the interim order to cease on Monday 4 February. Kituo Cha Sheria will be back in court on this date, when the court will hand down further directions and set a hearing date.