A young man in the market.

Carved out of a dusty patch of bush near the Somali border, the Dadaab camp began as a temporary camp for Somalis fleeing the civil war in 1991. 

More than twenty years later, it is a sprawling complex of more than 300,000 mostly Somali refugees squeezed into five separate camps. It is the biggest refugee camp in the world.
The world's forgotten refugees
02:30 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Court says camp closure plans violated constitution

Ruling comes as 3 million Somalis face famine

CNN  — 

The Kenyan government says it will appeal a court ruling Thursday thwarting its plan to close the Dadaab refugee camp, the largest in the world.

In a statement posted on Twitter, it said that it has “the cardinal responsibility of providing security for all Kenyans” and claimed the complex in eastern Kenya, which is the size of a large town, has become “a launchpad for various terrorist attacks by Al-Shabaab.”

Earlier in the day, Judge John Mativo said in a ruling that closure of Dadaab violates the country’s constitution.

The government’s closure and repatriation plans are “arbitrary, discriminatory and undignifying and hence a violation of Articles 27 and 28 of the constitution and consequently the same is null and void,” Judge Mativo declared.

The government has long held the view that Dadaab has been used as a base by the al-Shabaab terror group.

The camp began to grow with the outbreak of instability and violence in Somalia in the early 1990s and is currently home to approximately 260,000 people.

Relief at court decision

A refugee stands with her son just outside a fenced perimeter at Dadaab in May 2015.

Ahmed, 24, a refugee who was born in Dadaab, told CNN over the phone that the court’s ruling this morning came as a relief.

“Ever since the government of Kenya said that the camp should close in six months we were just fearing that the government would say the six months is ended and each and every one should go. That was all we have been worrying about.”

Human rights groups also applauded the court’s decision.

“After months of anxiety because of the camp closure deadline hanging over their heads, increasingly restricted asylum options and the recent US administration suspension of refugee resettlement, the court’s judgement offers Somali refugees a hope that they may still have a choice other than returning to insecure and drought-ridden Somalia,” said Laetitia Bader, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

Somali refugees in Kenya affected by Trump’s travel ban

Somalia was one of the country’s included in US President Donald Trump’s executive order to bar citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. The ban also prevents entry for all refugees for 120 days.

Twenty-six thousand refugees in Kenya, most of them from Somalia, were affected by that ban, Yvonne Ndege, the spokeswoman in Kenya for the United Nations refugee agency, told CNN.

Somalia elects an “American” president

dadaab refugee camp drone footage
From the air: The world's largest refugee camp
01:31 - Source: CNN

Yesterday, Somalia’s Parliament elected former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen, as the country’s new president.

Farmajo was declared victorious after incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud dropped out of the contest following the second round of voting.

The 328 members of Parliament met at an air force hangar in Mogadishu to cast their votes because of fears of a terrorist attack.

With the doors to the US appearing to close, many Dadaab residents now wanted to go back to Somalia, according