Kenya + 1 more

Refugees exit plan put on hold

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In Summary

  • Commission formed to fast-track bid to close Dadaab camp.

  • Kenya to seek money from donors before embarking on the programme to return Somali refugees home.

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Somali refugees will not be kicked out in 90 days as it would be too expensive.

On Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed told reporters in Nairobi that the repatriation would depend on the outcome of a donor conference later in the year.

“We will request UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) to convene a conference at which we will request partners and donors, for resources for the repatriation of refugees,” she said.

She went on: “I don’t want to put a timeframe but I tell you that we probably could do it either before the three months are over or maybe go over that period a little.”

LARGEST CAMP

Last week, Deputy President William Ruto, citing the camp as a terrorist breeding ground, told the UN agency to organise the relocation of the world’s largest camp to Somalia or the government would do it.

Both Somalia and UNHCR said it would break international laws and that Somalia was not yet safe.

On Tuesday, Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR officials held a three-hour meeting in Nairobi on security, repatriation and support for refugees.

Refugee Commissioner Haron Komen, National Assembly Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations vice-chairman Barre Shill and Dadaab MP Mohamed Daliye attended the meeting.

It culminated in the launch of a 12-member commission that will be in charge of the repatriation.

Kenya’s representatives will be Foreign Affairs and Interior cabinet secretaries, Refugee Commissioner and Kenyan ambassador to Somalia Josephat Maikara.

On Tuesday, Ms Mohamed insisted that the “bottom line” would be to repatriate the refugees, but conceded it would require much more money and time.

“The three of us are going to continuously meet to ensure that we expedite repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya,” she said.

Of the 335,565 refugees at Dadaab, only 2,060 have been repatriated through a tripartite agreement.

Although 50,000 others had gone back on their own, sources indicate the government was getting frustrated by the delay, yet the tripartite pact expires in September 2016.