Kenya, Somalia reach pact with UN agency on dignified return of refugees

posted in: Africa

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New York, US – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Governments of Kenya and Somalia have signed an agreement laying out the framework by which Somali refugees in Kenya could return to their homeland.

The PANA Correspondent in New York learnt on Tuesday that the agreement came as
between 30,000 and 80,000 Somali refugees have spontaneously returned to south-central Somalia since January.

A UN statement quoted Mr. Raouf Mazouand, the UNHCR Representative in Kenya, as saying that “returns must be made with safety and dignity, and in accordance with international law”.

He said that “the time frame for implementing the deal and the speed at which the refugees will take place is dependent on the situation in Somalia, access to basic services in Somalia, access to livelihood, and security”.

Mr. Mazouand also stated: “The agreement makes reference to about three years, but not as a deadline for the return of all refugees. It is simply the time during which the agreement is going to be implemented.”

The statement disclosed that there would be no vetting process, other than to check the nationality of the person.

It also said that a Tripartite Commission would be established, per the agreement, to oversee the implementation of its provisions.

Kenya is hosting some 470,000 Somali refugees, the majority of whom are in the large Dadaab refugee camps complex in the north-east of the country.

According to the UNHCR, the agreement has an incremental approach to repatriation, providing support to spontaneous returns while acknowledging continuous protection needs of the refugees.

“There is general interest from the Kenyan Government which they have expressed to have peace and stability in Somalia,” the UNHCR official added.

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