Kenya's high court has ruled against the closure of one of the largest refugee camps in the world, which hosts more than 300,000 people. Last year, the Kenyan government tried to close the camp in Dadaab, on the border with Somalia, and repatriate Somali refugees.

Authorities issued the directive claiming it was necessary to close the camp due to security concerns. They argued militants from Somalia-based al- Shabab group operated in Dadaab.

Shabaab, affiliated with both al-Qaeda and Islamic State (Isis, Daesh), often targets Kenya in retaliation for the Linda Nchi military operation, which saw the deployment of Kenyan troops to Somalia to drive out the militants in 2011.

The Kenyan government's decision stirred outrage prompting two local human rights organisations, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo Cha Sheria, to challenge the government's directive arguing it was discriminatory and in breach of international laws.

The country's high court has now ruled that forcibly repatriating refugees is anti-constitutional and amounts to "group persecution".

Rights groups have deemed the ruling as historic. Amnesty International said in a statement: "Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses. This ruling reaffirms Kenya's constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution."