Feature: More Somali refugees return home due to relative peace
03 November 2015, 21:29
Dadaab - More Somali refugee
families at the Dadaab refugee camps in northeast Kenya are trickling back to
their motherland because of relative peace in the war torn Somalia.
The latest group to board a UN-chartered plane to Mogadishu
was 41 individuals from seven families who have lived at the Ifo refugee camp
for the past two and half decades.
Among them was Yussuf Ahmed Osman, 35, who hails from
Banader region in Mogadishu.
Osman could not hide his joy. He told journalists at the
world's largest refugee settlement that he was delighted to be going back home.
Senior government officials who toured the camps on Monday
held talks with the families to wish the well.
Osman, who arrived in the camp when he was barely 10 years
old, sat for his secondary education in 2011 and has been a voluntary teacher
in the camp since then. He said it was time for them to join kinsmen in
re-building their motherland.
"We are happy that there is relative peace in Somalia.
And as the saying goes, East or West home is best. I want to join the rest of
Somali citizens in re-building our mother land," Osman told journalists.
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He said one of the things that prompted him to return back
home was the lack of job opportunities for refugees and the dwindling support
by UN agencies operating the refugee camps.
"We used to receive at least three rations in a month
and life was then bearable, but as we speak, this ration has been reduced to
once a month, which can barely sustain a family," Osman said.
He, however, thanked the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the
Kenyan government for the support they have extended to desperate refugees
during their stay at the camps.
"In as much we have been treated well, living in a
country as a refugee without other opportunities to empower yourself
economically is a bit tricky," said Osman, who only speaks English and his
native Somalia language.
According to UNHCR, security and socio-economic conditions
in many parts of Somalia are not right for large-scale returns.
Many refugees remain doubtful about returning, but some are
eager to leave life in exile behind and help rebuild their country.
To end one of the world's most complex refugee situations,
it is vital to make sure that the small number of returns can be successful and
contribute to a more peaceful and stable Somalia.
The group of 41 who included mostly women and children were
accompanied in their flight to Mogadishu by UNHCR and Kenyan government
On landing, they were handed over to UNHCR Somalia who in
turn presented them to Somali government officials for resettlement after which
they will automatically surrender their refugee status.
According to UNHCR, over 5,000 people have so far
voluntarily retuned back home since the program started in December 2013.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaisery's visit to the
camps follows growing concern that the refugee camps are being used for recruiting,
aiding and planning of terror attacks in the country by Al-Shabaab terror
At one time, the Kenyan government threatened to shut down
the camps following persistent terror attacks in the country.
Over 2 million Somalis remain displaced in the region,
including some 1.1 million in their own country and 967,000 as refugees in the
The majority (420,000) are living in Kenya, mostly in the
five refugee camps in Dadaab in the north-east of the country.
Nearly 250,000 Somali refugees live in Ethiopia, an
estimated 240,000 in Yemen, while over 29,000 are in Uganda and nearly 12,000