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Refugees in Dadaab camps shun calls to voluntarily return home

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In Summary

  • Head of operations at UNHCR Dadaab camp Jean Bosco Rushatsi said nobody is putting pressure on the refugees to go back home.

  • So far, a total of 80,144 refugees have been assisted to go back to Somalia from Kenya on a voluntary basis.

  • Officials in Dadaab have recorded a slower repatriation process for the last one year.

By ABDIMALIK HAJIR

The total closure of three extensive refugee camps in Dadaab may not happen soon as numbers of those returning to their countries of origin voluntary have reduced while others have vowed never to return to their homes.

While the number of refugees has tremendously reduced from 466,683 in 2011 to 208,871 individuals as at June 2018 due to spontaneous returns as well as voluntary return to Somalia, officials have recorded a slower repatriation process for the last one year.

United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has signed tripartite agreement with the Somalia and Kenya governments to provide a framework for the voluntary return of Somali refugees, who are the majority, back to their country.

INSECURITY

The Kenyan government has in the past announced its plans to close the Dadaab refugee camps saying they are a major cause of insecurity. There were claims that Al-Shabaab attacks were being executed from the sprawling camps.

So far, a total of 80,144 refugees have been assisted to go back to Somalia from Kenya on a voluntary basis since the process started in December 2014.

Refugees interviewed by the Nation said they are reluctant to voluntary go back home citing various reasons including lack of social amenities, lack of proper healthcare system, education and insecurity.

"One reason I will not go back to Somalia is the education of my children because there is no proper system unlike here where UNHCR are taking care of their education. Security is another big issue in my country," said Mrs Halima Yakub who is at the Hagadera refugee camp.

NO PRESSURE

Head of operations at UNHCR Dadaab camp Jean Bosco Rushatsi said nobody is putting pressure on the refugees to go back home since there are many challenges.

"UNHCR is only facilitating their movement for those willing to go back. Some areas are not safe yet. Efforts to rehabilitate basic services such as water, sanitation shelter, land, health and education are limited. This is why some refugees are still reluctant to go back," he told journalists.

In the three camps of Hagadera, Ifo and Dagahley, hundreds of refugees converged Wednesday to mark World Refugee Day and called for more assistance from the international community.