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UN: 18,000 Somali refugees have returned home

03 June 2013, 18:11

Nairobi - The UN humanitarian agency said on Monday that some 18,000 Somali refugees leaving regional countries have so far returned home since January.

A brief update from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) citing statistics from the UN refugee agency said majority of the refugees who returned to the Horn of Africa nation were from neighboring Kenya.

"According to the population movement tracking system by UNHCR, about 18,000 refugees have returned from neighboring countries into Somalia since January 2013," OCHA said in its update on Somalia.

The report comes after the UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to speed up relocation of Somali refugees to save host, Kenya out of troubles it was shouldering.

Ban, while commending Kenya for its efforts in ensuring peace and stability in Somalia, said on Sunday that the UN was aware the country was suffering for its bold action.

He said Kenya's push for resettlement of more than 600,000 refugees who live in camps along Northern part of the country should be supported by the international community.

"When I visited Daadab refugee camp last year, I witnessed a very sad situation where 600,000 people are crowded in one place. That population alone is more than that of some countries in the world," he said during a meeting with Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto.

"I could feel the huge challenge Kenya was facing and I sympathized with the president at that time because of instability in Somalia."

The Horn of Africa nation is the country generating the third highest number of refugees in the world, after Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to the UNHCR, 10,755 Somalis have so far sought refuge in neighboring countries in 2013. In the month of April, 2, 000 movements were reported in different areas in Somalia due to insecurity, floods, IDP evictions as well as cross-border movements

Thousands of people from the Horn of Africa, mainly from Ethiopia and Somalia, undertake a dangerous journey across the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen and beyond.

They risk their lives escaping conflict, poverty and recurrent drought, in search of asylum, better economic opportunities and a better life.

Many die during the journey, while others are subjected to abuse and injury at the hands of unscrupulous smugglers.

- Xinhua

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