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UN Says 826 Somali Refugees Return Home From Kenya

Storyline:National News

UNHCRThe UN refugee agency said on Wednesday in Nairobi that more than 826 Somali refugees living in Northern Kenya voluntarily returned home since a pilot project was launched on Dec. 8, 2014.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that a total of 341 individuals returned to Somalia in January.

The Agency described it as a significant step toward pioneering durable solutions to many years of displacement.

“A total of 826 individuals have left Dadaab between the start of voluntary return movements on Dec. 8, 2014 and Jan. 15,” it said.

It noted that before their departure, the refugees underwent counseling by UNHCR and partners on conditions in Somalia, especially with regard to security.

The agency said that a tripartite agreement signed by Kenya, Somalia government and UNHCR in November 2013, served as guide on the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees living in Kenya.

With hopes of greater stability in Somalia, some internally displaced persons and refugees from neighbouring countries were spontaneously returning to their areas of origin.

The agency said the returnees received a return support package comprising of unconditional cash grant, essential travel and hygiene kits for use during the journey home.

It also include tools, food and other basic needs to support the sustainability of return and reintegration in Somalia.

“Majority of these returnees arrived in Dadaab after 2010 from Baidoa and Kismayo; it has been confirmed that they all arrived in their destinations safely,” it said.

It said the pilot project targets an initial group of up to 10,000 Somali refugees in Kenya who wish to return to Somalia, starting with the immediate support to around 400 people in December.

The UNHCR identified three areas for returns, namely Luuq Baidoa and Kismayo in South Central Somalia.

The UN agency also said refugees in Dadaab camps had started receiving full food rations during the food distribution since the beginning of January. (Xinhua/NAN)