World Bulletin / News Desk
The government of Kenya and Somalia signed late Sunday an agreement on the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees currently living in Kenya to their home country over a three year period.
A commission made up of Kenya, Somalia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will work out the mechanism which will include the movement of refugees and the money to be given to each refugee to help their reintegrate in Somalia.
The agreement was inked in the capital Nairobi by Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed and Somalia Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fawzia Yusuf.
The signing ceremony was attended by Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto and UNHCR Representative in Kenya Raouf Mazou.
Mazou asserted that the repatriation will be voluntary and will be well coordinated.
Kenya is hosting 610,000 documented refugees living in designated camps, including 520,000 Somalia.
But nearly 500,000 other refugees, largely Somalis, are undocumented and live in different parts of the country.
The largest refugee camp in Kenya is the Dadaab Refugee Camp in Garissa in the North Eastern part of the country.
Dadaab was set up in 1991 to host a maximum of 90,000 people but this number has grown more than five times over the years following the increase in conflict in Somalia.
The Somali official said similar agreements would be signed with other countries holding large numbers of Somali refugees, including Ethiopia, Yemen and Uganda.
"The Somali government will continue creating conducive conditions for the safe return of refugees to Somalia to enable them quickly resettle and rebuild their lives, including the 1.8 million internal refugees inside Somalia," she said.
Yusuf asserted that the agreement came in recognition of improved security situation in Somalia, making it possible for the safe return of refugees.
An estimated 80,000 refugees have voluntarily returned to Somalia over the past few months.Last Mod: 11 Kasım 2013, 09:47