Somali refugees return home, 23 years later

NAIROBI: MORE than 90 Somali refugees have been repatriated from Kenya 23 years after conflict and famine drove them from their homeland.

The International Office of Immigration (IOM), in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Monday began the voluntary repatriation.

The refugees, from the sprawling Dadaab refugee complex that hosts over 350,000 Somali refugees, travelled in two IOM buses with their possessions to the Dhobley way station in Afmadow District, Lower Juba, on the Somali-Kenya border.

“I am glad to see men, women and children go back voluntarily in dignified manner to rebuild their country,” said IOM Somalia Chief of Mission, Ali Abdi.

“IOM will continue to help vulnerable communities willing to return to Somalia by providing them with services such as health care, water and sanitation during the repatriation exercise.”

The repatriation process is the outcome of the tri-partite agreement signed between Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR in November 2013, agreeing a dignified and humane repatriation process for Somali refugees in Kenya on a voluntary basis.

IOM will provide food, accommodation and water at the way station and also advise the returnees on routes to their final destinations. The refugees will receive repatriation packages including food rations for three months, non-food items and a livelihood start-up grant from UNHCR and its partners.

Although Somalia is still affected by conflict, a few pockets are safe to receive returnees, especially those liberated by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Federal Government of Somalia and the Interim Jubaland Authority support the repatriation process.

SOURCE: CAJ NEWS AGENCY