NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The UN refugee agency said Thursday it has
repatriated some 70,516 Somali refugees from Kenya since the
voluntary return exercise begun in December 2014.
The UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-weekly update
released in Nairobi that a total of 68,697 individuals from
Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya were assisted in the
framework of voluntary return to Somalia.
The UN refugee
agency said some 29,383 refugees returned in 2017 alone, noting
that currently there are 18,274 registered refugees willing to
return to Somalia.
“During the Kenyan
election, the Return Help Desks (RHDs) have recorded reduced
number of refugees willing to return. Arrangement has been put
in place during the election period to ensure continuation of
voluntary return by air without stoppage,” UNHCR said.
The UN agency
expressed its readiness to receive refugees returning home by
road, adding that security assessment on road safety between
Dadaab and Dhobley will be carried out after the Kenyan election
prior to resumption of the road movements.
More than 2 million
Somalis have been displaced in one of the world’s most
protracted humanitarian crises that have now entered its third
An estimated 1.1
million people are displaced within Somalia and nearly 900,000
have become refugees in the region.
Experts say continuing political and security stabilization
progress in Somalia, along with growing pressures in hosting
countries, makes this a critical moment to renew efforts to find
durable solutions for Somali refugees.