The UN refugee agency said that it has so far repatriated 4,108 Somali refugees from Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya to Somalia since December last year.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-Weekly Update received in Nairobi Saturday that 250 individuals returned to the Horn of Africa nation by road convoy while 224 returnees were assisted to return to Mogadishu by flight in the first half of September.
“The total number of returnees assisted under the voluntary return process stood at 4,108 as of Sept. 15 (3,510 by road and 598 by flight),” the UN refugee agency said in its latest report.
It said some 4,878 refugees have confirmed their intention to return to Somalia as of Sept. 15, adding that it has strengthened the identification and assessment of people with special needs under the voluntary return process.
“Their details and needs will be shared with UNHCR Somalia for further follow up upon arrival in Somalia,” the UN agency said.
It also said that with the anticipated rains in October and November, the number of flights carrying returnees to Mogadishu will be increased to six flight rotations per week.
“This will allow more returnees going to Mogadishu and its environs to reach their destinations safely before the rainy seasons starts,” UNHCR said.
The new phase of repatriation is the result of efforts by the Tripartite Commission, formed by UNHCR and the governments of Kenya and Somalia, to step up support for voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees.
Despite the fragile security environment situation in Somalia, refugees have started to return, UNHCR said, noting that more still have returned spontaneously without receiving assistance from UNHCR.
Under the current agreement, assistance will be provided to returnees to any area of Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia.
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.