, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 5 – Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery has complained over the slow repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya.
He says despite a commission being formed in April this year to implement the process in line with November 2013 Tripartite agreement between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Somalia government, nothing much has been done.
Speaking in Geneva at the 66th session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner Programme, Nkaissery said the slackness is notwithstanding the willingness of a lot of Somali refugees in Dadaab Camp in northern Kenya, to return to their country.
“It is with this knowledge that we signed, with the Federal Government of Somalia and the UNHCR, of the Tripartite Agreement, on 13th November 2013, for the repatriation of Somali refugees. We are not pleased with the rate of the implementation of this agreement,” Nkaissery said.
He added that peace has prevailed in a majority of areas in Somalia, and urged humanitarian actors dealing with the situation there to also relocate into Somalia.
Nkaissery argued that the longer refugee camps are allowed to fester, the more likely they are to lose their humanitarian character, threatening the very essence of asylum protection and assistance.
“Besides ensuring that they can create the necessary infrastructure to support return, it would also signal international community’s confidence in the rehabilitation of Somalia,” he cautioned.
As a country he said, Kenya views the repatriation of the Somali refugees as crucial to enabling them engage in the turn-around of that country.
He noted that Somalia will undertake its elections in August 2016 and that it was critical that the refugees are not disenfranchised during this historic process, that will also form a critical foundation for the recovery of that country.
Nkaissery emphasised the need for the issue of refugees to be addressed as a global problem and not a country or region problem, considering that Europe is now facing the same challenge of influx of refugees.
“The discussions in Europe today underscore what Kenya has sought: the imperative of us all adhering the principle of burden sharing that would enable us spread this global burden equitably across countries and regions. How can countries such as Kenya that continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the refugee burden be assisted?” he emphasised.
Kenya has been a host to more than a half a million refugees northern Kenya camps for more than two decades now.