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Somalia Plans Organized Repatriation of Refugees

Storyline:National News

Somali officials said they expect a phased repatriation of more than 300,000 Somali refugees from Kenya within the next four years.

Officials said only 5,500 people have so far returned to the country, but they expect that figure to reach about 12,000 by the end of this year, with a further 75,000 expected to be repatriated next year. Officials say they plan to have all the 320,000 Somali refugees return by 2019.

The announcement came after Somalia Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke visited refugee camps on Friday. His predecessor, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, visited the camps just over a year ago.

Sharmarke said the visits reflect the government’s concern about the prolonged plight of refugees, many of whom fled the country nearly 25 years ago. He said his government is working to make sure the conditions on the ground permit their return.

In a recent meeting in Brussels, donors pledged $500 million in support of the repatriation, but so far, officials say, only $105 million has been raised.