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Kenya to host tripartite talks in over Somali refugee issue

20 April 2015, 21:41

Nairobi - Kenyan plans to host a talk that will bring together the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Somali government to discuss over a pact signed in 2013 on repatriation of refugees, a senior government official said on Monday.

Deputy President William Ruto who has issued a three-month directive for the relocation of Somalia refugees said the tripartite talks will assess the pact that establishes a legal framework and other support for Somali refugees in Kenya who might eventually wish to return to their homeland.

"We would like this meeting to address the concerns raised in this matter so that we can deal with the refugee situation in the most humane manner," Ruto said in Nairobi during a meeting with visiting Prime Minister of Somalia Omar Ali Sharmarke.

He said the tripartite agreement will be discussed with a view of ensuring refugees returned to Somalia in a humane and orderly manner.

He noted that it was important to relook at the tripartite agreement, providing for a safe return of Somali refugees to address any concerns raised about voluntary repatriation of the refugees.

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The deputy president stressed that the return of the refuges will be orderly and pointed out that since the signing of the tripartite agreement to return the refugees home, 80,000 had returned home voluntarily.

He said Kenya was willing to support and engage in facilitating the development of infrastructure in Somali including providing teachers, nurses and other professionals under an internationally recognized agreement.

Ruto said the country had made a conscious decision to participate in the Somali peace process, a decision he added, was unwavering.

"That is why we committed troops under AMISOM and will not leave until we have a stable Somalia and we have eliminated all extremists, all those who finance and collaborate with terrorists, " Ruto added.

He said it was unfortunate that Al-Shabaab has a different agenda in Kenya trying to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims; an agenda, he added, will not succeed.

More than 350,000 Somali refugees live in the Dadaab complex in northern Kenya near the border with Somalia.

The authorities in the East African nation accuse Somali militants of training and recruiting insurgents inside the camps, which were set up in the early 1990s to accommodate refugees fleeing Somalia's civil war.

The Horn of Africa nation has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process after decades of factional fighting, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country's ten-year political transition period and the resulting security vacuum which rendered Somalia one of the most lawless states on the planet.

During the meeting Sharmarke said meeting was important to evaluate how the process can be carried out responsibly and made faster with the assistance of the international community.

"We want to address the refugee issue in the tripartite agreement and agree on how fast it can be done and what role the donor community can play," the Somali PM said.

Sharmarke also appealed to Kenya to scale up the presence of Kenya Defence Forces in Somalia amid increased attacks against AMISOM forces in the Horn of Africa nation.

He said although Al-Shabaab had been vanquished in most of the country, there was a "small corridor" it has been using to launch attacks on Kenya and Mogadishu.

- Xinhua


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