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UNHCR steps up repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya

15 August 2016, 18:26

Nairobi (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency has voluntarily repatriated 2,272 Somali refugees from the Dadaab camp in northwest Kenya between July 16-31.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-monthly report received in Nairobi that some 1,272 returnees were supported to voluntarily return to Somalia.

"Some 1,061 returnees were transported by road, while 211 persons returned to Mogadishu by flight," the UN refugee agency said on Monday.

"In total, as of July 31, 19,523 Somali refugees had returned home since December 8, 2014, when UNHCR started supporting voluntary return of Somali refugees in Kenya, out of which 13,322 were supported in 2016 alone," it said.

During the reporting period, 1,581 individuals also visited the Return Help Desks where they received return-related information or were processed for repatriation, adding that there has been a sharp increase of refugees visiting the return help desks.

Kenya,in collaboration with the UN refugee agency, is working on a program that will ensure a smooth and voluntary repatriation of over 500,000 refugees living in five camps at the Dadaab refugee camp after Nairobi announced the closure of the camp.

Kenya, which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the formation of the transitional federal government of Somalia, says the refugee situation continues to pose security threats to Nairobi and the region apart from the humanitarian crisis.

Nairobi believes Somalia militants, Al-Shabaab, who killed 148 people at Garissa University in April 2015, are behind a spate of insecurity that has hit several parts of northern, Nairobi and coastal regions.

UNHCR said its office in Dadaab was also involved in the planning of the relocation of 16,000 non-Somali refugees and asylum seekers, and 15,000 Somali refugees in the resettlement process from Dadaab to Kakuma.

"UNHCR has been discussing with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM is in the process of preparing a proposal which they will present to UNHCR. UNHCR Kakuma has initiated preparations to ensure a seamless reception of refugees to be relocated to Kakuma," it said.

The UNHCR and Kenya are also carrying out a verification exercise in the Dadaab refugee camps in order to have a clear picture of the refugees living in the camps and gather more information on their condition and return intention.

It is anticipated that the exercise, which started on July 4, will serve to ascertain the number of persons of concern living in each of the camps.

"As of July 31, a total number of 58,012 households comprising 270,517 individuals had been verified out of the targeted population of 78,998 households comprising 341,571 individuals," it said.

- Xinhua


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