Thursday July 23, 2015
NAIROBI -- The UN refugee agency said it has registered 3,719 new Somali refugees and asylum seekers in two weeks at the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the Kenyan government’s Department of Refugee Affairs (DRA) opened a two weeks window to register refugees and asylum seekers who newly arrived or have lived in the camps for some months without having been registered.
"The mass registration exercise was kicked off in Kambioos camp on June 29 and continued in all camps in the first half of July," the UNHCR said in its latest Bi-Weekly Update released on Tuesday.
The UN refugee agency said it registered 2,184 individuals and 1,535 asylum seekers, across all five Dadaab refugee camps, noting that it will continue registration in the second half of July.
Dadaab has been providing protection, shelter and humanitarian assistance to Somali refugees for two decades often under difficult and complex circumstances.
Chronic overcrowding, a risk of disease, and seasonal floods are among these challenges facing the refugees
Kenya hosts the third largest refugee population in the world and the toll could rise as new threats including terrorism and climate change related vagaries engulf neigbbouring countries.
According to the Update, voluntary return convoys continue leaving Dadaab for Somalia where the ongoing political stability has created opportunity to relocate some of the refugees from the Dadaab camp.
"During the first half of July, a total of 252 returnees departed Dadaab and arrived safely in Somalia," the UN refugee agency said.
According to UNHCR, some 2,840 Somali refugees have so far returned home since December 8, 2014, when the agency started supporting voluntary return of Somali refugees in Kenya.
The majority of them lived in Dadaab’s two newer refugee camps, Kambioos (996) and Ifo 2 (744).
The repatriation is being done through a framework agreed upon in a tripartite agreement among Kenya, Somalia and the UNHCR.
The estimated number of Somali refugees in the country is 423,244.
The Kenyan government has announced plans to repatriate 100,000 refugees by the end of 2015.
The East and Horn of Africa continue to suffer from conflict and displacement but Kenya remains the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa.
While most people fleeing from conflict in South Sudan arrive in Kakuma in northwest Kenya, most Somali refugees flee to Dadaab, located in Garissa County in northeast Kenya.