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826 Somali refugees return home from Kenya

22 January 2015, 08:22

Nairobi - The UN refugee agency said Wednesday that some 826 Somali refugees living in northern Kenya have voluntarily returned home since a pilot project was launched on Dec. 8 last year.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi- weekly Update that a total of 341 individuals returned to Somalia in January, calling it a significant step towards pioneering durable solutions to what for many has been years and even decades of displacement.

"A total of 826 individuals have left Dadaab between the start of voluntary return movements on Dec. 8, 2014 and Jan.15," said the agency.

Before their departure, the refugees underwent counseling by UNHCR and partners on conditions in Somalia, especially with regard to security, according to the agency.

A tripartite agreement signed by Kenya, Somalia governments and UNHCR in November 2013 guides dialogue on the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees living in Kenya.

With hopes of greater stability in Somalia, some internally displaced persons and refugees from neighboring countries are spontaneously returning to their areas of origin.

Also read: Somali refugees nervous as Kenya eyes their return

The returnees received a return support package comprising of an unconditional cash grant, essential travel and hygiene kits for use during the journey home, tools, food and other basic needs assistance to support the sustainability of return and reintegration in Somalia, said the agency.

"The majority of these returnees arrived in Dadaab after 2010 from Baidoa and Kismayo. It has been confirmed that they all arrived in their destinations safely," it said.

The pilot project targets an initial group of up to 10,000 Somali refugees in Kenya who wish to return to Somalia, starting with the immediate support to around 400 people in December.

The UNHCR has identified three areas for returns, namely Luuq, Baidoa and Kismayo in South Central Somalia.

The UN agency also said refugees in the Dadaab camps have started receiving full food rations during the food distribution in the beginning of January.

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- Xinhua


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