NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – The Kenyan Government insists the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees is the most viable, sustainable and durable solution.
Speaking during the Special Session of the Intergovernmental Authority of Development Council of Ministers on Durable Solutions to Somali Refugees, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery urged member states to support initiative which has seen 60,000 Somali refugees return home since 2013.
He further called on the states and the international community to be involved in strengthening political dialogue and peace building as means of addressing forced displacement of populations in Somalia and IGAD regions.
The Cabinet Secretary told his regional colleagues that in order for a peaceful and stable Somalia to be realised the international community must find an effective sustainable burden sharing mechanism for asylum seekers and refugees by fulfilling their pledges to support refugee hosting nations in the region to address the needs of refugees as well as the host community.
Nkaissery flagged the restoration of the degraded environment in the refugee hosting areas as a way of dealing with conflict over resources.
Kenya in collaboration with the UNHCR are working on a program that will ensure a smooth and voluntary repatriation of over 300,000 refugees living in five camps at Dadaab, which Nairobi plans to close.
The UN agency has said it expects the majority of the remaining refugee population to return to Somalia throughout 2017 and possibly into early 2018.
Kenya said it had put solid measures in place to fast-track repatriation of Somalia refugees and their re-integration in their native country.
The government in November 2016 announced that it would delay by six months the closure of the Dadaab camp, the world’s largest.
A UN survey carried between August and October 2016 found that 283,558 refugees were living at Dadaab, 58,000 fewer than in the past.
The UNHCR has since called on Kenya to be flexible in terms of a return time frame in order to meet the different elements of the plan, citing concerns that rigid time frames would be difficult to meet.