Nairobi Law Monthly - - Contents -

The United Na­tions refugee agency UN­HCR is plan­ning for as many as 50,000 So­ma­lis to re­turn home this year from a Kenyan camp, but that fig­ure may not be reached given con­cerns many refugees still have prob­lems about re­turn­ing.

About 6,000 So­ma­lis re­turned from Dadaab camp last year un­der a vol­un­tary repa­tri­a­tion pro­gramme; an ad­di­tional 1,200 left last month.

So­ma­lia is try­ing to re­build af­ter two decades of war and chaos. Hun­dreds of thou­sands of So­ma­lis fled to Kenya and other neigh­bour­ing states af­ter civil war erupted in 1991. More fled the 2011 famine. At its peak, Dadaab hosted 580,000 peo­ple. “We are try­ing to plan for a pos­si­ble 50,000 peo­ple in 2016,” Raouf Ma­zou, UN­HCR rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Kenya, said on a visit to Dadaab.

This fig­ure for pos­si­ble re­turnees might not be achieved with­out ad­di­tional tar­geted aid to help those seek­ing to re­set­tle meet ba­sic re­quire­ments, such as school fees.

Re­turnees al­ready re­ceive a one-off cash hand­out and some ba­sic food­stuffs and other items to help them get re-es­tab­lished.

But UN of­fi­cials said some of the main com­plaints by those who had re­turned were about lack of school­ing or ad­e­quate shel­ter, af­ter leav­ing a camp where ba­sic needs were met.

Those who have not opted to re­turn cite se­cu­rity as a ma­jor worry. “I want to go back,” said 50-yearold Mi­hiya Abdi Ali, who has been in Dadaab 25 years. “It is my mother­land but be­cause of the cur­rent se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion, I can­not go back.”

Kenya wants to close the camp, which it has said So­mali mil­i­tants have used in the past to launch at­tacks. Last year, it even threat­ened to re­lo­cate the refugees if the United Na­tions failed to do so, but it has not acted on its threat.

Euro­pean Union Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man­i­tar­ian Aid and Cri­sis Man­age­ment Chris­tos Stylian­ides, speak­ing on a tour of the camp last month, said it was vi­tal that re­turnees went back to a safe en­vi­ron­ment with ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices, like schools.^ (Reuters)

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