Team formed to speed up refugee shift plan shift plan

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KENYA, Somalia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees yesterday formed a tripartite committee to hasten the repatriation of Somali refugees.

Each of the three parties will nominate four representatives to the team, Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed said yesterday.

She was addressing the press after holding talks with Somalia Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer and UNHCR country representative Raouf Mazou.

“We are going to do everything in our power to expedite the repatriation of refugees,” Amina said.

Kenya wants the 24-year-old Dadaab refugee camp, Africa’s largest, closed for allegedly harbouring terrorist cells.

Deputy President William Ruto issued a 90-day ultimatum for the camp to be closed after the April 2 Garissa University College attack by al Shabaab militants.

The three parties said a conference will be held next month to pitch the idea of faster return of refugees to donors.

Some Sh9 billion is required for the repatriation process.

“We have agreed that we will do it as quickly as possible. I don’t want to put any timeliness on it because a lot will also depend on the resources available,” Amina said.

Omer said his country wants all refugees “to come home”, adding it should be as “voluntary, orderly and quick as possible.”

“We want all people in Kenya to understand that 20 years is such a long time for anybody to be a refugee. We will do everything we can to ensure refugees come back home,” he said.

“Quickly means anytime that they are ready to go, they will go.”

Omer said Somalia will cooperate with Kenyan authorities to weed out extremists.

Mazou said: “Anything that has been done has been done within the context of the tripartite agreement signed in 2013. We also believe Somalia needs a lot of support.”

Kenya signed the tripartite agreement with Somalia and the UN refugee agency in 2013 that provided for voluntary repatriation of refugees. The pact expires in September 2016.

 Source:The Star