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Somalia ‘dragging feet on refugees’

By Lonah Kibet
Updated Tue, February 11th 2014 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Lonah Kibet

Nairobi, Kenya: The Government has called on Somalia to fast-track the appointment of members to the tripartite commission to facilitate repatriation of refugees.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku said all the other parties had appointed their members and were waiting for those from the Federal Republic of Somalia to kick-start the repatriation process.

“Safe return of Somali refugees to their country will pave way for infrastructural, institutional development and reforms that will enhance democratic growth and governance in their country,” said Lenku.

He confirmed that 20,000 more Somali refugees, in addition to the 80,000 reported earlier, had gone back to their country voluntarily after the signing of a tripartite agreement between Kenya, Somalia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

He added that the fulfillment of the obligations of the tripartite agreement would give Kenya an opportunity to restore and preserve the environment, enhance security while assisting Somalia’s development through free donor resources.

 “As you are aware, Kenya has paid a heavy price in the form of insecurity, environmental degradation and community conflicts as a result of hosting large numbers of refugees,” he said.

Lenku pointed out that the country still hosts millions more refugees at the Dadaab Refugee Camp and called for help from African countries, through the African Union, in the repatriation of the refugees.

Discussion

He said through continued dialogue and engagement with all stakeholders, political good for the process would be sustained.

He added that the county plays host to other refugees, including close to 150,000 at Kakuma Camp and more than 100,000 in urban centres.

Lenku was speaking yesterday during an African Union roundtable discussion that is seeking long-lasting solutions for displaced persons and refugees. The cabinet secretary said countries should first resolve their political conflicts so that the rebuilding process can begin.

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