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Rights of Somali refugees must protected, Kenyan religious leaders say
Catholic News Service photo
A Somali man and his child deported from Kenya arrive at the airport in Somalia's capital Mogadishu April 9. Religious leaders called upon the Kenyan government to ensure that a crackdown on undocumented Somali refugees is done with a
Catholic News Service photo
A Somali man and his child deported from Kenya arrive at the airport in Somalia's capital Mogadishu April 9. Religious leaders called upon the Kenyan government to ensure that a crackdown on undocumented Somali refugees is done with a "human face."
Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya — Religious leaders called upon the Kenyan government to ensure that a crackdown on undocumented Somali refugees is done with a "human face."

In a statement released April 14, leaders of the country's mainline churches, including Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi, urged security personnel to protect the rights and dignity of each person being held in Kasarani Stadium in the Kenyan capital.

More than 1,000 Somalis have been taken into custody since April 2. Officials began the roundup after a March 31 blast in the Somali-dominated suburb of Eastleigh killed six people. The incident was the latest in a series that have targeted churches and church-related buildings.

"The current operation must not be seen as targeting any religion, tribe or nationality, but at fighting terrorism and other forms of crime," said the statement, which also was signed by Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Rev. Joseph Ntombura Mwaine of the Methodist Church, Rev. David Riitho Gathanju of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa and Rev. Charles Kibicho of the National Council of Churches of Kenya.

Several human rights organizations also have raised concerns about police actions during the crackdown.

The church leaders called on the government to expand the ongoing operation to include other security-related concerns such as armed robbery, cattle rustling, extermination of wildlife, rape, kidnapping and petty crimes.

"(Government) must address the link between corruption, illegal guns and immigrants; the direct link between rising poverty levels, unemployment and increase in crime," the statement said.

"It is all clear that the high number of unemployed youth is fertile ground for terror groups to recruit," it continued. "We cannot stand aside as so many lives continue to be lost."

The leaders urged President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Kenyan government to take appropriate steps to "ensure a safe country for us and future generations."

In the effort to end corruption, the religious leaders called for a united front across all levels of government from Nairobi to local communities to "drop side shows and power games" and instead focus on the delivery of services to all people.

"It is sad that incessant power plays and fight over control of resources between parliament, Senate, governors and the county assemblies seems to be sapping all energies from delivery services to Kenyans," they said.

On April 12, a group of 18 chiefs of mission representing western nations and multinational agencies wrote to Kenyatta urging him to take more robust steps to fight corruption throughout the government.

"At the moment when Kenya is restructuring government ... attracting investment, expanding trade, creating jobs, and fighting terrorism, corruption is holding the country back. It is an unwelcome companion, and has no place in Kenya's bright future," said the envoys, including those from the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

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