Top Stories / National
Thursday, 07 Jul 2016 21:25 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
The first batch of about 180 refugees left the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya early this week for their native homeland of Somalia, according to reports from the camp. The families were from Kismayo and Luuq in Southern Somalia, and each was provided US$2,000 (Sh200,000) to start a new life.
The refugees’ departure coincided with the start of a two-month process of population verification at Dadaab Refugee Camp ahead of plans to repatriate 150,000 Somalis back to their homeland by December.
The population verification process aims to establish the actual number of refugees at the Dadaab Camp and their identities by country and specific place of origin. Kenya has got the support of the Federal Government of Somalia and the United Nations agency in charge of refugees for the transfer of the Somali population.
After the verification, the process for voluntary returns to Somalia and the relocation of non-Somali refugees including Sudanese and Ethiopians to Kakuma Refugee Camp will commence. Kenyan citizens found to have been registered as refugees would also be deregistered and resettled.
A major preparatory meeting for the verification was held in Nairobi on June 25, where Kenyan government officials, refugee representatives and officials from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) mandated the start of the exercise, which is being overseen by Kenyan administrators in North Eastern region.
The meeting hosted by the Kenyan foreign ministry was attended by Abdusalam Hadliyeh Omer, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Investment Promotion of Somalia and Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Somali Refugees Living in Kenya had earlier met in Nairobi to discuss modalities of the repatriation. The commission brings together the Kenya and Somalia governments and the UNHCR.
The National Task Force on Repatriation of Refugees from the Dadaab Refugee Complex is guiding the process, along with the Somali Proposed Scheme for Somali Returnees from Dadaab and the UNHCR Plan of Action.
The UNCHR has also expressed concern that some Kenyans are registering as refugees. UNHCR spokesman Duke Mwancha told a local media station they were aware of Kenyans falsely registering as refugees in order to get free services and food.
The meeting was informed that, as at the end of May, 16,000 Somalis have returned to their country under the return and reintegration process, and the number of Somali refugees registered in Dadaab had gone down by more than 100,000 to 326,000 people.
“The parties noted the prospect of the reduction of the population in the Dadaab camps by 150,000 individuals by the end of 2016 as a result of voluntary returns to Somalia, relocation of non-Somali refugees, the de-registration of Kenyan citizens who registered as refugees, and a population verification exercise,” said a statement from UNCHR.
The Tripartite Commission members will meet in October to review progress made on the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees. UNHCR said that the Tripartite Commission “also recognized the need for similar initiatives to strengthen the resilience of impacted host communities in Kenya; the need for Quick Impact Projects to ensure livelihoods are not adversely impacted; and to undertake environmental restoration.”