In Summary

  • On Tuesday, Kenya, Somalia and  the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said they had formally nominated four representatives each to a team to ” expedite repatriation of refugees at Dadaab.”
  • Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed  told reporters in Nairobi that the commission would help the three parties “discuss ideas” that will see a faster return of the refugees.
  • Mohamed refused to say whether the ‘repatriation’ would happen within the three months announced earlier but hinted that the 90-day notice would be the “bottom line.”.
  • But some donors like Germany, which last month gave Sh500 million for the programme, insist the return should be voluntary.
  • For its part, Somalia says it wants all refugees to come home but wants it to be “orderly.”

The government has agreed to form a tripartite commission to oversee the repatriation of Somali refugees.

On Tuesday, Kenya, Somalia and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said they had formally nominated four representatives each to a team to “expedite repatriation of refugees at Dadaab”.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed  told reporters in Nairobi that the commission would help the three parties “discuss ideas” that will see a faster return of the refugees.

The formation of the commission, which is provided for in the tripartite agreement signed in September 2013, is a result of Ms Mohamed’s meeting with Somali Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer and UNHCR Representative Raouf Mazou among other stakeholders in Nairobi.

90-DAY ULTIMATUM

But it was also informed by a recent announcement by the Kenyan government that Dadaab camps should be closed within 90 days.

On Tuesday, Ms Mohamed refused to say whether the “repatriation” would happen within the three months announced earlier but hinted that the 90-day notice would be the “bottom line”.

“We have agreed today that we are going to do everything in our power to expedite the repatriation of refugees,” she said.

“We have agreed that we will do it as quickly as possible. I don’t want to put any timelines on it because a lot will also depend on the resources available,” she said.

Signed in 2013, the tripartite pact expires in September 2016.

SH9BN REQUIRED

Both the UNHCR and Somalia have argued that the pact should provide the guideline for voluntary repatriation of the more than 330,000 refugees.

But Kenya argues the 24-year-old camp, one of the largest in the world, should be closed as soon as possible because it harbours terrorist cells.

Some 2,060 refugees have been voluntarily returned through the tripartite agreement even though Kenya says another 50,000 went back on their own.

At least Sh9 billion is required to return all the 330,000 refugees to Somalia.

The parties say a conference will be held next month to pitch to donors the idea of a faster return.

But some donors like Germany, which last month gave Sh500 million for the programme, insist the return should be voluntary.

SOMALIA WILLING

“Anything that has been done has been done within the context of the tripartite agreement signed in 2013,” Mr Mazou told reporters.

“We also believe that Somalia needs a lot of support.”

For its part, Somalia says it wants all refugees to come home but wants it to be “orderly”.

“We want all people in Kenya to understand that 20 years is such a long time for anybody to be a refugee.

“We will do everything that we can to ensure refugees come back home. We would like this to be as voluntary, orderly and quick as possible. Quickly means that anytime that they are ready to go, they will go,” Dr Omer said, adding they will cooperate with Kenyan authorities to weed out extremists.