More than 33,000 So­mali refugees have re­turned home

Road con­voys were sus­pended in Au­gust, af­ter the Juba­land ad­min­is­tra­tion re­fused to re­set­tle re­turnees, cit­ing in­ad­e­quate hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­port and se­cu­rity risks

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics General - ADOW MO­HAMED @ad­owmo

More than 33,000 So­mali refugees from the Dadaab camp have re­turned home since De­cem­ber 2014, the UN refugee agency has said.

In the lat­est brief, UNHCR said 517 refugees had been repa­tri­ated in the past two weeks by flight.

Flights have re­sumed and are cur­rently op­er­at­ing three days a week.

“As of Oc­to­ber 15, 33,178 So­mali refugees had re­turned home since De­cem­ber 8, 2014, when UNHCR started sup­port­ing vol­un­tary re­turn of So­mali refugees in Kenya,” the UN- HCR re­port said. The agency has been air­lift­ing the refugees to Baidoa since the Juba­land ad­min­is­tra­tion sus­pended road con­voys in Au­gust. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­fused to re­set­tle re­turnees, cit­ing in­ad­e­quate hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­port and se­cu­rity risks.

The UN agency said the refugees will con­tinue to be air­lifted to Juba­land two days a week un­til a so­lu­tion is found on bor­der cross­ings.

Juba­land, which bor­ders Kenya to the East, is an au­ton­o­mous re­gion in south­ern So­ma­lia and a close ally of Kenya.

In the past five months, makeshift camps in So­ma­lia’s south­ern­most bor­der state have been grow­ing, as thou­sands of refugees are repa­tri­ated.

UN agen­cies in So­ma­lia met with the Juba­land ad­min­is­tra­tion last month. They re­ported that the ad­min­is­tra­tion had agreed to co­op­er­ate in the rein­te­gra­tion of the re­turnees.

Kenya tar­gets to repa­tri­ate more than 300,000 So­ma­lis from the twoand-a-half-decade-old Dadaab.

It said ear­lier this year it would close Dadaab, cit­ing se­cu­rity con­cerns.

Last week, the UN agency said 26,819 So­mali refugees have in­di­cated will­ing­ness to re­turn home. With elec­tions in the war-torn coun­try ap­proach­ing next month, ob­servers say the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion is likely to de­te­ri­o­rate, with ter­ror group al Shabaab vow­ing to step up at­tacks.

/COUR­TESY

Pres­i­dent Has­san Sheikh Mo­hamud with So­mali refugee stu­dents in Dadaab on June 6

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