NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – The Department of Refugee Affairs on Friday said it had repatriated 2,020 refugees from Dadaab Camp in an ongoing pilot phase.
Acting Commissioner for Refugees Affairs Haron Komen told a news conference that the repatriation process of the 600,000 refugees was halted due to rains but will resume the coming week with expectations that a caravan of 200 refugees will be returned to Somalia.
“Next week we are targeting to at least not have a caravan of less than 200 refugees. That is in the pilot phase,” he said.
He said the current repatriation is a pilot programme led by UNHCR to observe any challenges likely to occur before a mass repatriation programme in the pipeline.
“The pilot phase is meant to help us to address any weak areas that will come before we commence on mass repatriation phase which we will target on hundreds, or tens of thousands, it will be coming on board in the next one month,” he explained.
Komen further explained that in the following weeks, the refugees will be returned to different areas in Somalia in larger groups.
According to him, the pilot phase only targeted at repatriating them to Kismayu but will now increase areas of destinations to cover Mogadishu, Baidoa and other areas in Somalia.
He further said though the government’s target is to beat the three month deadline of repatriation in its bid to close the Dadaab Camp and minimise the number of refugees in other camps, the three month working time still applied.
He also explained that there were refugees in other areas such as Kakuma, in areas in Nairobi and Mombasa who will also be part of the repatriation programme as per the tripartite agreement.
The tripartite agreement between Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR is based on voluntary basis which will envisage availability of basic needs when they return home.