NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7- Kenya supports the timely return and resettlement of Somali refugees to their motherland, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
President Kenyatta said that it was untenable to have Somali refugees occupy a camp that carries a population larger than the third largest city in Kenya and also have another larger number of refugees spread across the country.
“As a country, we continue to host the largest population of Somalis outside their country,” President Kenyatta said.
He said apart from the humanitarian crisis, the situation continues to pose security threats to Kenya and the region.
The Head of State who spoke on Tuesday at the London Conference on Somalia reaffirmed the position taken by the recent IGAD Summit that called on the international community to develop modalities for safe and orderly return and resettlement of Somali refugees with definite time lines.
The president called on the international community to expand its support to the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) as a matter of urgency maintaining that securing peace in Somalia was of crucial importance to the return of refugees.
President Kenyatta reiterated that the Somali refugees must find an environment that can support their livelihoods once they return home.
“We urge the international community, in particular the United Nations, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, to work in concert to help create this environment,” he said.
Reaffirming his government’s support for a secure and stable Somalia, the president said the London Conference marks the beginning of a new partnership between Somalia, its neighbours and friends.
President Kenyatta pointed out that had held discussions with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia twice in the last one month with the aim of advancing shared goals.
The president informed the conference that recently the Heads of State and Government of IGAD met in Addis Ababa where they welcomed the Somali Federal Government’s National Stabilization Plan.
President Kenyatta added that the Addis Ababa summit agreed on specific principles on which all processes, including the ongoing efforts to set up regional administrations and stabilization efforts, will be anchored.
“The successful conclusion of the Transition Roadmap in August last year and the liberation of large territory from the control of Al Shabaab have widened a window of opportunity for lasting peace in Somalia. Somalia is on course, now more than ever, to lasting peace,” the president said calling on the international community to support the efforts being undertaken by IGAD.
He emphasized that the reform of the Somali security sector must be holistic, inclusive, logically sequenced and prioritized in order to safeguard the stabilisation process
President Kenyatta further said that the process of creating the Somali National Security Forces must include the systematic and orderly integration of the various allied forces that are currently engaged in the anti-Al Shabaab war.
“It must also include the orderly reception of Al-Shabaab deserters, their rehabilitation, re-training and integration into the security forces or any other institutions where they will perform productive civilian roles,” President Kenyatta said adding that the process also needed to include civilian components of the entire justice administration system.
“Furthermore, we believe that the capacity of Somalia to effectively deal with the internal security situation is a prerequisite for peace and stability,” the president insisted.
President Kenyatta, however, called on the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure compliance with international norms and standards on arms inventory management and safekeeping.
The president disclosed that the Kenya Government is in the process of putting in place a diverse and expanded framework for cooperation and assistance as requested by its Somali counterparts.
Noting that capacity building in identified priority areas will be offered under this framework, President Kenyatta said Kenya has already trained more than 2,500 Somali soldiers.
He added that his government is willing to offer further assistance in training Somali judicial and financial officers at relevant institutions, as well as through a program of secondment to Government institutions in Kenya.
Further, the president said his government is interested in a tripartite model which would provide for partnering with the international community to train Somali nationals at established training institutions in Kenya.
He appealed to the international community in turn to redouble their support to the stabilization, reconstruction and long term development of Somalia, saying a stable and prosperous Somalia is in the interest of all nations.
Addressing the conference, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a long term security plan to end the Al-Shabaab reign of terror.
The British Prime Minister disclosed that Britain will commit £10 million (Sh1.3 billion) to help develop Somalia’s armed forces and £14.5 million (Sh1.88 billion) to double the number of police officers, train judges and lawyers.
“Britain will also support the new maritime strategy, enabling full radio connection all along the entire coastline for the first time in 20 years,” the British Prime Minister said.
He expressed optimism that countries in the region will stay the course and work with Somalia as it builds up its own forces.
The British Prime Minister said the international community must send a strong signal to the international financial institutions on the need to follow the World Bank’s lead and help Somalia to deal with its debts and access the vital finance it needs.
Sheikh Mohamud on his part appealed for total and unflinching commitment, partnership and support of the international community.
“Under my leadership, we offer the world a legitimate partner you can trust, hard at work to deliver an integrated national security plan; economic reform and new financial management systems; rule of law and judicial reform; and an environment conducive to commercial growth,” the Somali President said.