Friday, February 1, 2013
by: Ahmed Naif
Three Somalis who had drifted in a dinghy near Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Thinadhoo in November 2010.
Around 40 Somalis who had drifted to the Maldives on various occasions will be repatriated during March, Maldives Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
Maldives had agreed to repatriate the Somalis after discussions with officials of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) and Somalia's Puntland government during October last year.
State Foreign Minister Hassan Saeed on Thursday told Haveeru that the government had completed the necessary arrangements to repatriate the Somalis in Maldives. In that regard, the consents and other relevant official documents have been prepared, Hassan said.
According to Hassan, all expenses related to the repatriation would be borne by UNODC.
"UNODC is currently arranging a flight to carry the Somalis back to their country. The arrangements have been made to enable us to send them back during March," he detailed.
The 40 Somalis have been kept in the Police Detention Centre in Dhoonidhoo. Maldives government and UNODC had reached an agreement to carry out the necessary medical checkups, to allow the flight to land in Maldives and to oversee the transfer of Somalis to the flight, Hassan said.
Due to the long procedures and the high cost involved had seen the Maldives government's previous attempts to send the Somalis back end in failure.
President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik during the Rio+20 Summit last year had held discussions with the foreign minister of Somalia to repatriate the Somalis in Maldives.