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Malala visits world’s largest refugee camp

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DADAAB (Kenya): Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai spent her 19th birthday on Tuesday visiting the world’s largest refugee camp to draw attention to the global refugee crisis, especially as Dadaab camp faces pressure to close after quarter of a century. Since last year, Malala has been in contact via Skype with a group of girls in Dadaab, said Taylor Royle, her spokesman.

“I am here to speak for my unheard sisters of Somalia striving for education every day,” Malala said on Tuesday, explaining that on each birthday she chooses a region where girls’ education is negl­­­ected and needs attention.

Kenya’s government says Dadaab camp, which hosts more than 300,000 mostly Somali refugees, will be closed by next year because it has become a security liability. The camp is in eastern Kenya, near its border with Somalia. The possibility that the camp will be closed brings yet more uncertainty to the refugees, who face the prospect of returning to Somalia still plagued with conflict. Kenya insists any returns will be voluntary, even as

the international community has warned against forceful evictions.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has said repatriations from Dadaab will be done in a humane way. Many of Dadaab’s refugees have lived, most if not all their lives in the sprawling camp, which has been open for 25 years and is a vast settlement of established homes and newcomers’ improvised huts of thorn branches and other materials. Malala was expected to be asked about the fate of Dadaab during her visit.

The Kenyan government claims that attacks on Kenya by the Somali extremist group al-Shabab were planned and facilitated in Dadaab camp. Al-Shabab has

carried out numerous attacks in Kenya that have killed scores since 2011.

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