705 Kenyan refugees return from Uganda
07 May 2015, 09:39
Busia - A group of 705 Kenyans who fled the country at the height of the 2007/08 post election violence arrived in the country.
The group is part of 1 350 Kenyans who have been living in Uganda after fleeing the country when violence erupted following a disputed Presidential election in December 2007.
The refugees who have been living in a camp in Kiryandongo in Western Uganda entered the country through the Malaba border point.
The refugees were then taken to a makeshift camp within Malaba town for screening and check up at the Malaba Dispensary.
They will later be transported to different locations across the country where the government is expected to buy land and resettle them.
Speaking on behalf of the returnees, Ruth Irungu thanked the Ugandan authorities for accommodating them since 2008 and hailed the efforts by the Kenyan government to ensure that they return back to the country.
She appealed to the government to ensure speedy resettlement.
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“Am appealing to the government to give us land so that we can restart our lives afresh and settle down. Let it help our children who are in need education. We have the sick and disabled among us who are in dire need of assistance,” said Irungu.
Jane Wangui, another returnee, recounted amid tears how she lost her 17-year-old son in Uganda and how the violence left her with a spine injury rendering her immobile.
Many of the returnees broke down while disembarking from the bus they were travelling in overnight, arriving in the country Tuesday evening.
Uganda Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Refugees, Hillary Onek, said 6 500 Kenyans took asylum in Uganda in 2008 following the post election violence, but 5 000 have voluntarily been returned back home since then.
Onek said the 705 refugees are part of the remaining 1 350 Kenyans who have also accepted to come back home, with only 150 claiming that they were not ready to return.
He said 645 individuals will also be repatriated in the next five days once those in temporary camp have exited.
Onek further added that his ministry plans to dialogue with the refugees they are hosting in various camps in Uganda whose countries are now peaceful so they can voluntarily go back home.
“In Uganda, we have about 500 000 refugees drawn from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Southern Sudan. However, we are working to ensure there is peace in those countries so that they can go back home,” noted Onek.
Western Regional Co-ordinator, James ole Serian welcomed the refugees back home saying Kenya is now a peaceful country and there is no need to fear.
He thanked the Ugandan government for accommodating the Kenyans for seven years saying the two countries have a history of peaceful co-existence that dates back to the 1970’s when Ugandan teachers were allowed to teach in Kenyan schools.
“We have always had a peaceful and good working relationship between the two countries and we thank the Ugandan government for the continuous support that they have accorded our refugees,” he stated.
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