, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – One thousand, one hundred and eighty three Kenyan refugees who fled to Uganda at the height of the post election violence will in a month\’s time return home.
This follows a successful tripartite meeting held between the governments of Kenya and Uganda as well as the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Kampala to formalise procedures that will oversee their voluntary return.
Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi however noted that the refugees had already started coming back home without the guidance of any formal agreements between the three parties.
"The tripartite agreement which this meeting is expected to come up with will now provide a framework for the voluntary repatriation of the refugees to Kenya and define the roles of the three parties in ensuring that the repatriation is done in an organized and coordinated manner", said Ms Murugi who led the government delegation to Uganda.
Ms Murugi who was accompanied by her Permanent Secretary as well as senior officers from the ministries of Internal Security and Immigration also observed that there was need to form a commission which would facilitate the return.
The committee will comprise refugee officials from Uganda, Kenya and the UNHCR.
She further assured the government of Uganda that Kenya was committed to ensuring the urgent formalisation and implementation of the tripartite agreement to allow the return of fellow Kenyans back home.
She said it was encouraging to note that so far, seven different groups totalling 278 households had returned to Kenya. She said that the returnees were currently settled in different parts of the country and had integrated well.
During the 2007 Post Elections Violence, 640 households fled to Uganda. They were settled in Kiryandongo refugee settlement in Masindi district, North West of Uganda.
The refugees, through the Chairman of the Kenyan refugee Community in Uganda, Stephen Njuguna, indicated their willingness to return home upon assurance of their security.
Uganda\’s Minister of State for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Musa Ecweru, said the East African countries should assist each other in safeguarding their citizens\’ rights.
He said that his government was happy to have hosted the Kenyan refugees arguing that the cordial relations between the two countries created a friendly atmosphere that would benefit its citizens.
Ms Murugi, further lauded Ugandans for holding peaceful general elections last month.
Reports indicated that 1,700 Kenyans fled to Uganda following the 2008 post-poll chaos that saw 1,500 citizens killed and another 500,000 displaced.
However the special programmes ministry has been having challenges securing decent land for those that were displaced.
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