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Kenyan official says repatriation of Somali refugees conducted humanely

Monday October 3, 2016

The repatriation of Somali refugees living in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp is being carried out within the confines of international humanitarian law, a Kenyan official said on Monday.

Fazul Mohamed, executive director of Kenya's NGOs Coordination Board, said in a statement that the repatriation was being conducted "in a humane, voluntary and dignified manner" to guarantee the rights of the refugees.

Kenya in November 2013 signed a tripartite agreement with the Somali government and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to facilitate the repatriation of Somali refugees in the country, but the process was only fast tracked this year after Kenya said it would close Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp hosting more than 300,000 Somalis.

Mohamed said the repatriation was "revitalized" in May following the formation of an "inter-agency taskforce" to address hurdles that had slowed it down.

"Since the formation of an inter-agency taskforce in May, some 31,021 refugees have been repatriated to Somalia with another 106,000 refugees registering for voluntary relocation," Mohamed said.

Xinhua could not independently verify the figures, but the UNHCR said late last month that it had repatriated 30,349 Somali refugees from Dadaab since December 2014.

Mohamed said the Kenyan government had put measures in place to fast track the repatriation.

He said that desks had been established in Dadaab to offer help to the Somalis that will return home.

"These help desks offer the refugees a platform to make independent return-related inquiries that may inform their willful decision to either leave or stay."

Dadaab was set up over 20 years ago to house Somalis fleeing civil conflict. Kenya cites security concerns for its decision to close the camp.


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