, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 2 – President Mwai Kibaki has called on the international community to facilitate voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees to safer areas in their country that have so far been liberated from Al-Shabaab militants.
President Kibaki noted that through the joint efforts of African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Kenya’s Defence Forces and the Transitional Federal Government safe areas had been created that can host Somali refugees in their country.
He called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in collaboration with the international community to facilitate the relocation of the refugees.
President Kibaki noted that Kenya hosts over 630,000 Somali refugees in Dadaab camp, a number that was not sustainable and a strain to the available resources.
The resident was speaking on Wednesday at his Harambee House office when he met the European Union Commissioner for development Andris Pielbalgs.
The Head of State urged the international community to utilise the safe havens so far created in Somalia through the ongoing military intervention to provide social amenities such as water, health services and schools to Somali refugees ready to return to their motherland.
During the occasion, the president said it is was better for the refugees to return home and continue getting the humanitarian assistance from the international community than the squalid lives they are leading in various refugee camps in Kenya.
Saying there was hope of putting Somalia on the path of sustainable peace and development after over 20 years of untold suffering, the Head of State also appealed to the EU and other international partners to support efforts by Somali people to stabilize and reconstruct their country.
President Kibaki once more reassured Kenyans and the international community of government’s commitment to the implementation of the constitution and delivery of credible, free and fair elections.
The president and the EU Commission also discussed the aftermath of the TFG’s mandate which ends in August this year and holding of elections to put in place a democratic government.
President Kibaki who is the chairperson of the EAC thanked EU for continued support to AMISOM and TFG to liberate all parts of the Somali republic and put in place institutions of authority and restore the rule of law.
Regarding other sectors of national endeavour, President Kibaki said the government continued to place emphasis on infrastructure development and invited the EU development agencies and other investors to partner with Kenya in implementation of Lamu Port South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).
On the conflict between Sudan states, the President welcomed the decision of South Sudan to pull out of Heglig oil rich area and urged a quick return to the peace agreement.
On his part, Pielbalgs commended President Kibaki and his government for being in the forefront in brokering peace in Somalia and the Sudan.
The EU Commissioner, who visited Northern Kenya on Tuesday, assured of continued support to water and health programmes that empower the local people.
The EU commissioner was accompanied by Head of EU Commission Lodewijk Briet. On the Kenyan side Cabinet ministers Sam Ongeri, George Saitoti and Moses Wetangula, acting Head of Public Service and Secretary to Cabinet Francis Kimemia and Director of Europe and Commonwealth Division at the Foreign Affairs ministry Lazarus Amayo.
President Kibaki later met and held discussions with the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Coca Cola Muhtar Kent.
During the talks the president appreciated the company’s support to the sports industry.
He said the company also focuses on initiatives that reduce environment degradation while enhancing the economic development of the communities in its area of jurisdiction.