Nearly 3000 Somali refugees repatriated from Kenya since last Dec
06 August 2015, 21:33
Nairobi - Nearly 3,000 Somali refugees in
Kenya have been repatriated voluntarily since last December, the United Nations
refugee agency (UNHCR) has said.
The agency Wednesday used two airplanes to airlift 116
Somali refugees from Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya to Somalia's
capital Mogadishu, the latest transport which it said marked "a new
phase" of voluntary repatriation.
"In response to signs of increasing stability in
Somalia, between December 2014 and early August, 2,969 Somali refugees have
returned to the districts of Luuq, Baidoa and Kismayo, with UNHCR support as
part of the pilot phase," the UNHCR said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
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"The majority of the returns from Kenya to Somalia will
continue to take place by road as has been the case during the pilot phase, and
only for people with specific protection needs will UNHCR facilitate
airlifts," the statement noted.
The UNHCR and governments of Kenya and Somalia are working
together for the repatriation. They plan to repatriate voluntarily some 425,000
Somali refugees over a five year period.
The Dadaab camp, the largest refugee settlement in the
world, still hosts some 333,000 Somali refugees.
The Kenyan government asked the UNHCR to repatriate Somalis
in Dadaab following an attack by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab gunmen on Kenya's
Garissa University that killed almost 150 people.
The UNHCR says nine districts in Somalia's South Central
regions will harbour the repatriated refugees, including Mogadishu.