IGAD Summit: Refugee camp never meant to be permanent home
Heads of State from Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and South Sudan on Saturday met in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for the special Intergovernmental Authority on Development IGAD Summit on Somali Refugees.
More than two million Somalis have been displaced since 1991 and the country now faces its third famine in 25 years.
Speaking during the summit, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta made an appeal to the international community to step in and aid Somalia.
Kenyatta was speaking as he hosted the IGAD summit whose main aim was to find a lasting solution to return Somali refugees back to their home country.
“The security crises and droughts in Somalia have had a particularly pronounced impact on human security. To date, close to 900,000 Somalis have sought refuge in our region,” Kenyatta said.
“A refugee camp was never meant to be a permanent home, nor is being a refugee a promise of losing your citizenship and your country, for more than two decades, more than 400,000 Somalis have been hosted at the Daadab Refugee Complex,” the Kenyan leader added asserting that Kenya will not back down from its decision to send Somalia refugees back home by May this year.
He added that even though Kenya and Somalia have decided to open their borders to enhance trade, Dadaab has become a protracted situation, characterised by hopelessness that easily feeds environmental destruction; conflicts between refugees and host communities; insecurity; radicalisation; criminality; and allows terrorist operatives to exploit it for their operational efforts.
“It is for these reasons that the Kenya government made a decision in May last year to close down the Daadab Refugee Complex,” Kenyatta added.
At the same conference, Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed, the President of Somalia pleaded with the African leaders and the international community not to force refugees to return back to Somalia noting that the drought and famine affecting Somalia will lead to mass displacement and deaths.
According to a joint communique issued after the meeting, the assembly agreed to facilitate the voluntary return of Somali refugees back home in safety and dignity addressing the root causes of displacement.
The East African leaders also agreed to support Somalia by strengthening its security by discharging the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and reinforcing the capacity of the National Security Forces of Somalia.
According to the Kenyan government data, more than 60,000 Somali refugees have so far returned back home to Somalia voluntarily.