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Kenyan lawmakers against forceful repatriation of Somali refugees

Kenyan parliamentarians have pledged dialogue with the international community to facilitate voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees.

Ekwe Ethuro, Speaker of Kenyan Senate, said the East African nation will abide by international protocols to ensure repatriation of Somali refugees does not compromise their safety.

“The government has an obligation to respect international commitments as we embark on a process of repatriating Somalia refugees.

Ekwe Ethuro, Speaker of Kenyan Senate, said the East African nation will abide by international protocols to ensure repatriation of Somali refugees does not compromise their safety.“The government has an obligation to respect international commitments as we embark on a process of repatriating Somalia refugees.
“We have commenced discussions with UN Refugee Agency to explore the best modality of returning these refugees to their homeland,” Ethuro told journalists in Nairobi.He was speaking during a forum for parliamentarians in the great lakes region that discussed terrorism and eruption of new conflicts.The Kenyan government has vowed to fast-track repatriation of Somali refugees as part of a long-term war against terrorism.

Deputy President William Ruto said last week Kenya had given a three-month ultimatum to repatriate all Somali refugees in the country’s Dadaab refugee camp.

He added the government will initiate forceful relocation of the refugees once the three month deadline is over.

Officials from the UN Refugees Agency early this week urged Kenya to reconsider the decision to relocate Somali refugees.

They stressed that Kenya is signatory to the Geneva Convention that obligates countries to treat persons fleeing from war and persecution with dignity.

Kenyan lawmakers are opposed to repatriation of Somali refugees until their security is guaranteed.

According to Speaker of the Senate, Kenya will abide by domestic and international legal instruments to facilitate smooth relocation of an estimated 350, 000 Somali refugees.

“The decision to repatriate Somalia refugees is based on the current national security threats we are facing.

“We need to protect our territory from infiltration by terrorists but the law must be followed,” Ethuro said.

He said that refugee camps located in Kenya’s northern frontiers have been infiltrated by terrorists.


Kenya orders UN refugee agency to relocate Somali refugees

NYERI (Xinhua) – Kenya has directed the UN refugee agency to relocate thousands of Somali refugees living in northern region following increased terror threats in the country.

Deputy President William Ruto said the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has been given three months to relocate refugees from the Daadab refugee camp, the world’s largest refugee settlement to help reduce terror threats.

“The relevant bodies have three months, starting today, to relocate all the refugees from the camp,” Ruto directed in Nyeri, central Kenya.

Kenya has for many years generously hosted tens of thousands of Somalis refugees, fleeing fighting from central and southern Somalia whose lives were at substantial risk that requires international protection.

Nairobi, which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the formation of the transitional federal government of Somalia, said the refugee situation continues to pose security threats to Kenya and the region apart from the humanitarian crisis.

Ruto said that the camp has been suspected of harboring terrorists who plan and carry out attacks in Kenya.

He said should the refugees not be relocated within the given period, the government will take necessary steps to remove them from the area.

Early in the week, leaders from northern Kenya called on the government to shut down the camp or relocate it to Somalia, saying that it has been used as a breeding point for terrorists.

Ruto’s directive came even as more refugees continue flooding the camp especially from the Horn of Africa nation.

‘al-Shabaab’ militia attacked the Garissa University College on April 2, killing at least 148.

The East African nation is also hosting nearly half a million refugees from Somalia and has delayed their repatriation until the security situation in the country improves further.

Kenya blames the influx of refugees and ‘al-Shabaab’ insurgents for a string of attacks and kidnappings in Nairobi, Mombasa and northern region towns.

UNHCR says over 2,048 Somali refugees returned home

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — The UN refugee agency has said it has so far repatriated 2,048 refugees from Kenya to Somalia under the current voluntary return pilot project which kicked off in December 2014.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its biweekly update received in Nairobi that more refugees have expressed their interest to return home.

The UNHCR said majority of the refugees returned to southern Somalia’s port city of Kismayo and with hopes of greater stability in Somalia, some IDPs and refugees from neighboring countries are spontaneously returning to their areas of origin.

“2,048 individuals (442 households) voluntarily returned to Somalia between the beginning of the return pilot project in December 2014 and March 31.

“The majority returned to Kismayo,” UNHCR said in the update.

According to refugee agency, a total of 25 cases comprising of 87 individuals were submitted to Branch Office Nairobi for onward resettlement to the U.S, Denmark and New Zealand in mid March.

“21 new born babies and five spouses were added on to cases already in the U.S resettlement processing pipeline. 27 individuals departed Dadaab for onward resettlement to Sweden, U.S. , Norway, France and Britain.

“The Swedish resettlement experts arrived in Dadaab on March 30 and conducted Cultural Orientation for refugees who will be resettled to Sweden,” it said.

The move came after the German government last month provided 5. 5 million U.S. dollars to support voluntary repatriation of refugees to Somalia.

The money was channeled to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to implement the project which will help to improve the livelihoods of returning refugees, IDPs and the local population in selected host communities.

She said the project also symbolizes the return of German Development Cooperation to South and Central Somalia where the GIZ had been active until 2011 providing development-oriented transitional aid.

UNHCR has formed the Return Consortium, consisting of UN agencies and international NGOs in Somalia which promotes a standardized approach to assist returnees and seeks synergies to facilitate voluntary return, with the aim of safe and sustainable reintegration of returnees in Somalia.

According to UNHCR, the returnees received a return support package comprising of an unconditional cash grant, essential travel and hygiene kits for use during the journey home, tools, food and other basic needs assistance to support the sustainability of return and reintegration in Somalia.

Somali refugees in Kenya are estimated at 500,000 and the number has increased due to turmoil and recurrent droughts in the Horn of African nation which has been torn asunder by factional fighting since 1991 but has recently made progress towards stability.

The conflict has left some 1.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and over 1 million more living in exile in neighboring countries, mostly in Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen.

But with parts of Somalia showing signs of increasing stability, countries hosting Somali refugees are considering the potential to encourage them to return, while some Somalis have spontaneously decided to move back to areas under government control.

The Tripartite Agreement which was signed by Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR in November 2013 establishes a legal framework and other support for Somali refugees in Kenya who might eventually wish to return to their homeland.

Source: Coastweek