116 Somali refugees voluntarily return home from Kenya
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Thursday described the arrival of 116 Somali refugees from Kenya, as a new chapter in the voluntary return process.
In a statement issued in Geneva, the agency attributed the return to efforts by the Tripartite Commission formed by UNHCR and the Governments of Kenya and Somalia to accelerate support for voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees.
The 116 Somalis are from Dadaab in Northeastern Kenya, the largest refugee settlement in the world that was still hosting more than 333,000 Somali refugees.
UNHCR said in spite the fragile security environment situation in Somalia, the refugees have started to return home.
It said so far, 2,969 Somali refugees have returned back to their motherland with UNHCR support as part of the pilot phase.
The agency said under the current agreement, assistance would be provided to returnees, to any area of Somaliland, Puntland and South Central Somalia.
The UNHCR said the support included standardised financial and in-kind assistance to ensure safe and dignified return, as well as longer-term support to help returnees reintegrate in areas they once fled from.
The Commission was established following the signing of Tripartite Agreement between the governments of Kenya and Somalia and UNHCR in November 2013 to govern the safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya.
A spokesperson from UNHCR said majority of the returns from Kenya to Somalia would continue to come by road as has been the
case during the pilot phase.
He said only people with specific protection needs would UNHCR facilitate air transportation for.
“UNHCR believes that urgent solutions are needed for the 1.1 million internally displaced Somalis as well as the more than 900,000 Somali refugees hosted in the region, half of whom reside in Kenya”, it said.