(Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency said on Friday that it has
repatriated some 52,591 Somali refugees in Kenya since the return exercise begun
in December 2014.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) said in its bi-weekly Update said out of the figure, some 13,277 were
supported in 2017 alone.
“Road convoys were organized from
Dadaab to Dhobley respectively on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and
Thursdays,” the UN refugee agency said.
It added that flights to Mogadishu
have resumed on Feb. 27 after a long suspension due to security restrictions in
Mogadishu since December 2016.
The move comes after President Uhuru
Kenyatta while meeting the UN Chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said Dadaab
refugee camp will be closed.
Kenyatta insisted that the closure is
not only good for Kenya in the fight against terror but for the Somali refugees
who he said need to replant their roots back home in the interest of rebuilding
their nation and restoring their dignity.
“Our policy has been clear for some
time, the events that led to the establishment of Dadaab are terribly tragic and
the best response to that tragedy is to help refugees to return and rebuild
their nation and that is Kenya’s policy and our efforts to hasten the
repatriation and resettlement of refugees,” Kenyatta said.
His comments came after the High Court
in Nairobi last week ruled that the planned repatriation of refugees would be
unconstitutional, saying government officials had no powers to order closure of
the camp, despite claims that there were serious security, environmental and
Kenya is expected to host an
extraordinary summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
on March 25 to deal with the refugee issue.
The UNHCR said its Monthly Cross
Border Coordination Meeting on voluntary repatriation to Somalia held on Feb. 28
and attended by representatives from Government of Kenya, Government of Somalia,
UNHCR Kenya and Somalia resolved to step up repatriation despite looming famine
“Participants deliberated on the
drought situation and the looming famine in Somalia and its impact on
voluntary repatriation. It was agreed that voluntary repatriation from Kenya
to Somalia will continue, while the drought situation will be closely
monitored,” it said.