Kenya calls for speedy repatriation of Somali refugees

The government of Kenya wants the Somali federal government to speed up the repatriation of the refugees living in the United Nations-designated camps in Kenya.

Nairobi argues that the East African nation is now witnessing stability following successful joint operation by African Union and Somali government forces against al-Shabaab fighters. The Somali government says that it too wants its refugees resettled but says the process must be gradual.

The recent calls by Nairobi to have Mogadishu repatriate its refugees comes barely days after the UN refugee agency called for an international protection of Somali asylum-seekers. Although UNHCR was a signatory in the tripartite agreement signed between Kenya and Somalia in regards to the repatriation of more than half a million Somali refugees from the camps in Kenya, the international refugee body says that insecurity still remains a major challenge especially in the south and central parts of the country.

Kenya plays host to more than half a million refugees who have been fleeing Somalia for the past two decades. Since 2011, Nairobi has troops in Somalia fighting against the Al-Shabaab and hopes to create a safe zone in Southern Somalia that will allow large flows of refugees to return. The Somali National Security Minister however told us that his government is working hard to improve the security in south central Somalia that has witnessed prolonged conflicts in the past years.

An agreement between Somalia and Kenya brokered by the world refugee body and signed in November 2013 supports the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees. The United Nations and other International rights groups however have warned Kenya against forced repatriation of the refugees and urged the host countries to honor their international obligations.

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