More than 24,000 Somali refugees at the Dadaab camp have returned home, the UN refugee agency has said. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Kenya and Somalia signed a tripartite agreement in 2014.
The UNHCR country deputy representative Wella Kouyou said this year alone, more than 18,000 refugees have returned home.
He spoke at Dadaab on Tuesday during the commissioning of the Dadaab power station.
Kouyou said the UNHCR will work closely with the Kenya and Somali governments to ensure the refugees repatriation is not only voluntary, but is also done in a dignified manner.
“We will ensure a rehabilitation programme for the refugees is carried out alongside the repatriation. We thank the international community from whom we continually sought support in various sectors,” he said.
The Kenyan government said it will close the Dadaab refugee camp by the end of November for allegedly being a ‘terrorists breeding ground’.
The international community, including UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon tried to pressure the government to suspend the repatriation but gave in after Kenya stood its ground. “Our prayer is that the joint effort will bear fruit by finding more long-term solutions for refugees who have been forced to flee their country because of insecurity and political instability,” Kouyou said.
Leaders want the UNHCR to do more for the host community as refugees have “significantly destroyed the environment”.
Balambala MP Abdikadir Aden said hosting the refugees for 25 years has caused environmental degradation and insecurity.
“As much as we are supporting the repatriation, we are also asking the government to come up with alternative ways and means for Kenyans who were doing business with the refugee camps because they will be jobless,” he said.
Aden urged the government to ensure Kenyans whose fingerprints were captured in the refugee database are removed from the records.
He said little has been done to correct the problem.
Present were Dadaab MP Mohamed Dahiye, Abdullahi Diriye (Wajir South) and Mohamed Shidiye (Lagdera).