The prime Minister of Somalia on Friday led a delegation of East African leaders among them the southern Sudan President Ahmed Mohamed Islam, North Eastern regional commissioner Ambassador Mohamud Saleh, senior UNHCR officials and other senior security officials to Dadaab refugee camp to assess the state of refugees before they are moved back to Somalia.
The Somali government is seeking for funds from donors that will be used to put up the necessary infrastructure for a safe and stable place for refugees when they are returned to their Home country.
Records from the Interior Ministry show that at least 45,000 refugees have been repatriated in the last two years from the Dadaab refugee camp and more could soon be going back home under a new program that looks to repatriate at least 500,000 Somali refugees.
In August, UNHCR Antonio Guterres said Kenya had agreed to repatriate refugees in the Dadaab Refugee Camp voluntarily rather than forcibly as earlier declared.
This means no one will be forced out of the camp as earlier feared. Many in the camp were not prepared to make the move.
Over the years, Somali refugees trickled into the country due to war and famine. Their population here has grown to an estimated 350,000 people, more than half the population of the entire refugee community in Kenya.
UNHCR says it has identified 8 areas in Somalia, where most of the refugees came from, and where they will be hosted.
Guterres said that the Kenyan and Somali governments have reached a political solution to address the refugee relocation challenge.
Speaking in Dadaab the prime Mr Omar Abdirashid said that his government is committed towards stabilizing peace despite the continued attacks made by the al-shabaab militia.
“As we prepare the ground work for our sisters and brothers to return and contribute to the development of the country, both the Kenya and Somali government are working hand in hand to stabilize the region”. The prime minister
He said that his government will incorporate the Kenyan curriculum into the Somalia system and absorb the 500 teachers currently teaching at the refugee camp to ensure smooth transition of education for children currently continuing with their studies at the camps.
He urged the refugees to go back home, and further said he was touched by the resilience and hope the refugees had held despite living in a challenging environment they are living in.
Abdirashid asked both the UNHCR and the Kenyan government to respect the dignity of refugees.
The PM thanked the Kenyan government for opening doors for the refugees who have been in the country for the past 25 years despite the fatigue of hosting such a huge number of refugees.
This visit of the delegation comes after the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery toured the camp on November 3rd 2015 said the necessary infrastructure such as health, education and water among other basic necessities have been put in place before the refugees go back to their homes.
Speaking at the same function, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said that Kenya believes in the rule of law and respects all UN charters, adding that this was the main reason why it has troops inside Somalia to ensure that refugees return to a safe country.