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Kenya hopes to move 150,000 refugees to Somalia by year-end

Earlier in the week when Kenya's high level delegation to the UN sat down with Secretary General Ban Ki Moon/COURTESY

Earlier in the week when Kenya’s high level delegation to the UN sat down with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon/COURTESY

NEW YORK, US, Sep 21 — Kenya anticipates to repatriate 150,000 refugees to Somalia by the end of the year.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed says 100,000 refugees have already been registered for relocation.

“The relocation of the refugees is however dependent on international support which was pledged in Brussels amounting to $100 million,” she said.

She told journalists on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York that the target to close the Dadaab refugee camp by the end of the year remains.

“What pledged $10 million ourselves which has been used to move the refugees so far,” she said.

CS Mohammed downplayed claims that Kenya has failed to justify the closure of the camp asserting that it harbours terror cells.

“The three women whose intentions were stopped in Mombasa a week ago have been known to have links to Dadaab.  What more evidence does one need?  I don’t need to go back to other unfortunate and tragic events,” she said.

She explained there is no turning back on the plans to shut down the camp.

“We need to do this for ourselves and for our national security interests.  We also need to do this for the Somali refugees whose dignity was taken away. The only way to give this dignity back to them is to move them from the squalor of the refugee camp.”

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On Monday, Deputy President William Ruto who is representing President Uhuru Kenyatta at the 71st UN General Assembly in New York said it was important for the relocation of the Somali refugees to continue.

“We believe that the opportunity for the reconstruction of Somalia lies in the return of its people,” he said.

He urged support for reconstruction of Somalia and AMISOM, which he said is playing a critical role in stabilising the war-torn nation and safeguarding the safe return of its people.

He spoke as world leaders came together to adopt the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which expresses the political will of world leaders to protect the rights of refugees and migrants, to save lives and share responsibility for large movements on a global scale.

On Tuesday, the summit drew pledges from 50 countries to take in 360,000 refugees.

Speaking at a US-led refugee summit at the United Nations, US President Obama praised Germany and Canada among other countries for opening up their doors to those fleeing the war in Syria and other conflicts.

“We are facing a crisis of epic proportion,” Obama said.

“We cannot avert our eyes or turn our backs. To slam the door in the face of these families would betray our deepest values.”

Some 50 world leaders took part in the Summit, but their participation was conditional on making new commitments to address the world’s largest refugee crisis since World War II.

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“Collectively, our nations are roughly doubling the number of refugees that we admit to our countries to more than 360,000 this year,” Obama announced.

In particular, seven countries – Romania, Portugal, Spain, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Luxembourg – committed to resettle or admit at least 10 times more refugees than in 2015, according to US officials.

While the new pledges would allow more asylum-seekers to rebuild their lives, it represented a fraction of the 1.1 million refugees who are in need of resettlement in 2016, according to the UN refugee agency.

Countries also boosted financial contributions to UN appeals and international humanitarian organisations by about $4.5 billion over 2015 levels.

The pledges included funds to ensure access to schools for one million refugee children and enabling one million refugees to work legally.

The summit was held a day after the 193 UN member-states adopted a global plan to confront the refugee crisis. Rights groups dismissed the plan as falling far short of the needed international response.

A record-breaking 65 million people are on the move worldwide, including 21 million refugees fleeing the war in Syria and other conflicts.

Only eight countries currently host more than half the world’s refugees: Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya and Uganda.

Six of the world’s richest countries – the United States, China, Japan, Britain, Germany and France – hosted only 1.8 million refugees last year, just seven percent of the world total, according to research by the British charity Oxfam.

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