NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – The NGO Coordination Board has dismissed concerns that the repatriation of refugees from Dadaab refugee camp to Somalia is inhumane.
The Board’s Executive Director Fazul Mahamed says at least 15 non-State agencies are actively involved in the process.
He explained that some of the critical stakeholders participating in the process include the International Rescue Committee, Danish Refugee Council, Norwegian Refugee Council, and the Kenya Red Cross Society.
“The ongoing repatriation process is being undertaken in a humane, voluntary and dignified manner in accordance with international obligations and the various statutes dealing with the status and rights of refugees; including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The repatriation process in Kenya was commenced by a Tripartite Agreement signed on November 10, 2013 by the Federal Government of Somalia, the Government of Kenya, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“It should be noted, however, that since 2013, the repatriation process was slow-paced with only 14,000 refugees being repatriated between Nov 2013 and May 2016, as a result of lack of coordination and commitment between the various agencies involved in the exercise.
This prompted the Kenyan Government to constitute a professional multi-agency team known as the National Multi-Agency Refugee Repatriation Team (NMARRT).
“The NMARRT provided and continues to provide a platform for broader consultation, guidance and participation amongst key stakeholders including UNHCR in the repatriation exercise to ensure that the process is undertaken in a humane, and dignified manner.”
Mahamed said the fundamental principles that guide the team’s involvement in the voluntary repatriation process include the creation of an enabling environment and the subsequent sustainable reintegration of the refugees to the host communities.
“Some of the programs include establishment of return help desks in the camps. There is also a return help desk in Nairobi to cater for urban refugees.”
Mahamed says several visits to Kismayu, Mogadishu and Baidoa have so far been undertaken in December, 2014, November and December 2015.