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May 13, 2015

Kenya - Voluntary repatriations from the Dadaab camps continuing

(Medeshi)- UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, visited Kismayo last week and met with some returning refugees there.

Dadaab refugee camp - Web image 
On his short trip to Kenya and Somali he also discussed the agreement, signed in November 2013 between UNHCR and the governments of Kenya and Somalia, to assist Somali refugees in the Dadaab camp complex to voluntarily return to selected areas of Somalia. He also held talks with Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and other officials. He said after the talks that the “emphasis is not to push people to go back, but to create more conducive conditions for sustainable return and reintegration in Somalia” As part of a six-month UNHCR pilot project for voluntary return and reintegration, a limited number of refugees began returning to Somalia from Dadaab in December last year. So far, more than 2,000 refugees have returned to the Luuq, Baidoa and Kismayo districts. UNHCR has established a reception infrastructure with stations at the border and in the areas of return, to guide and support the returnees on their journey home. In addition to the three areas identified for return during the pilot phase, another five districts in Somalia are being assessed as potential return areas. Education, health, shelter and livelihood projects are also under way to help returnees reintegrate. Mr. Guterres thanked Kenya's President Kenyatta for Kenya’s continued support to the refugees. He said he wanted to express “my deep gratitude to President Kenyatta for his reassurance that repatriation to Somalia will be voluntary, with safety and dignity.” The UN High Commissioner also reiterated his call for more support from the international community to invest in Somalia: “If we invest in Somalia and Somalia is able to solve its security problems, which will benefit of all its neighbors, including Kenya.”