KENYA: More Time Needed to Repatriate Somali Refugees, UN tells Government

NAIROBI JUNE 14, 2016 (CISA) – UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi has urged the Kenyan government to relax its November deadline for sending about 350,000 Somalis home from the Dadaab Refugee camp since parts of their country are unsafe.

“The places of origin of many of the refugees in Dadaab are still very insecure,” Grandi, told a news conference in Nairobi on June 13 adding.

“I think everybody understands that we need to be gradual in respect of those who come from those areas.” “We don’t want to help people go back and then they become internally displaced. It is just transferring the problem from one place to another where… it’s even more difficult to help them,” he added.

The Kenyan government announced in May that it planned to close Dadaab camp – world’s largest refugee complex – which is home to 350,000 mainly Somali refugees, due to fears the camp had been infiltrated by al Shabaab militants.

Grandi called on donors to provide funding to create jobs and build infrastructure in Somalia to allow refugees in the Dabaab camp who wish to return home to nine areas regarded as safe by the UN to do so.

He further said he will meet with the Kenyan and Somali governments in Nairobi later in June, after lobbying donors to step up investment to improve conditions in Somalia.

According to Grandi, only 14,000 Somalis have voluntarily returned home since December 2014, and another 8,000 are on a waiting list to do so.

The UN provides returnees with transport and basic household items, as well as three months food rations, which Grandi said he hopes to increase to six or 12 months supplies.

In October, UNHCR appealed for $500 million to improve conditions for voluntary return to Somalia. It received pledges of $105 million, only $7.5 million of which have been received, spokesman Andreas Needham told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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