Kenya’s government has extended by six months the deadline to close the world’s largest refugee camp.
It had said the Dadaab camp, home to more than 300,000 Somalis, should shut down by the end of this month.
But Kenya now says it has suspended the repatriation to allow more time for consultation and funding.
Rights groups had expressed alarm over the initial deadline for closing the camps and called on Kenya to roll back its decision.
Last May, Kenya’s Interior Minister Joseph Nkaisserry said his country would be working closely with the UN and the Somali government to repatriate the refugees so the camp could be vacated for closure.
Back then, he said the decision was final.
But as the deadline loomed, human rights groups accused the Kenyan government of coercing refugees to return home despite the continued insecurity in Somalia.
Mr Nkaisserry said the decision to delay the closure of the camp followed a request by the UNHCR head Filipo Grandi.
It is not the first time that Kenya has backed down from a decision to close the refugee camp.
It had vowed to close down the camp last April in the wake of a deadly attack by Somali militant group al-Shabab on a university 100km (62 miles) away.
The al-Qaeda linked group has staged several attacks on Kenya in recent years.
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