Kenya recently announced it will close the world's biggest refugee camp. It's a move it's threatened before, but this year, it has some unexpected leverage: Europe.
When Europe began panicking over its growing refugee population, Kenya took notice. A very noticeable feature of that crisis is that Europe is willing to spend cash — lots of cash — to end its refugee problems.
Kenya's displeasure for hosting refugees does have a long history, and — to be fair — its plan to voluntarily return some refugees was already set to expire this year.
Kenya thinks the refugee camps harbor terrorists, but experts and refugee aid workers dispute this.
Kenya also says it’s tired of bearing the burden of refugee hosting — although most of the financial cost is actually paid by international donors.
This is not the first time Kenya has said it will close the camps. Last time it issued this threat, it got $45 million more in U.S. aid.
But there's two new reasons that experts think Kenya might be serious this time. One is a technical change on refugee status that was made quietly just a few weeks ago.
The other is that Kenya's leadership is facing scrutiny about its own dealings in Somalia — and its president is staring down re-election.
Refugee advocates, meanwhile, are worrying about how all this might go down — and hoping the Kenyan government will take their calls.
Jina Moore is the global women's rights correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Berlin.
Contact Jina Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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