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Over 500,000 Somali refugees “ready to return home”
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
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Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said on Monday that plans are at an advanced stage for Kenya to start repatriating Somali refugees to their country.
Mohammed said a major conference to agree on modalities of repatriating the over one million Somali refugees will be held in Nairobi in August.
“For now I am happy because about 50 percent of them [refugees] are willing to voluntarily return. I can assure you that we will do it in an orderly and most humane manner which upholds the dignity to our visitors,” she said at a breakfast meeting hosted in honour of ambassadors from Asian countries.
“We hope you will all help us finalise this activity of taking the [Somali] refugees back to their country,” the Secretary asked the envoys.
The conference will be organised by Kenya, Somalia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The International Organisation for Immigration will also take part in the conference which follows another held in London last month and attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mohammed explained that only 600,000 refugees are registered by the Kenya government although there are one million Somali refugees in Kenya. During the conference held at Lancaster House on May 7, Kenyatta said the refugees at the Dadaab camp were ‘untenable’ as he called for speedy resettlement.
He detailed that apart from the overwhelming number of refugees, there was a security threat in the East African region due to the situation in Somalia. Kenya in 2011 deployed about 5,000 troops to fight militia groups and help in restoring peace and stability in Somalia.
During the conference, Somalia appealed for support in security, justice and public financial management in which the international community agreed that political stability was the anchor point in securing the country that has experienced decades of instability.
There was also an agreement that the return of refugees and those displaced will be resettled once the security situation is improved. The delegates agreed that further details would be discussed during the Nairobi conference which will among other points focus on the resettlement process.
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