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Kenya: Repatriation process to Somalia starting, must be voluntary

Briefing Notes, 26 November 2013

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 26 November 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Following the signing on 10 November of a Tripartite Agreement between UNHCR, the Government of Kenya, and the Somali Government, UNHCR and the Kenyan Government have reiterated that all returns of Somalis refugees from Kenya to Somalia should be strictly voluntary. UNHCR does not support forced returns.

This understanding was reaffirmed last Friday (22 November) when the Kenyan and Somali refugee commissioners Badu Katelo and Ahmed Nur, visited Dadaab refugee camp-complex in north-eastern Kenya to discuss the repatriation process now starting. UNHCR works and speaks with the refugees daily, but this visit provided the refugees with the opportunity to ask high-level Somali officials about the areas to which they are considering returning with some lively informal discussions in addition to town-hall meetings.

The Tripartite Agreement sets out the legal framework for returns to Somalia. It specifies that all returns should be voluntary and take place in safety and dignity. There is no deadline in the agreement for the returns.

Implementation of voluntary repatriation will initially concentrate on supporting on a pilot-project basis refugees who are themselves spontaneously returning to Somalia. Three areas in Somalia will be targeted for this purpose. So far, Luuq, Baidoa and Kismayo are under discussion with the refugees.

Preparations are under way in both Kenya and Somalia to implement the pilot project. In Dadaab, return help-desks have been established to provide refugees with information and assistance on repatriation to Somalia.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Nairobi: Kitty McKinsey (regional) on mobile +254 735 337 608
  • In Dadaab: Mans Nyberg on mobile +254 704 807 205
  • In Geneva: Daniel MacIsaac on mobile +41 79 200 7617
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UNHCR country pages

Repatriation

UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

The number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have arrived in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, and nearly 400 have died attempting the journey.

This surge in arrivals is largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the new arrivals also tell of crop losses due to drought, which forced them to leave home. This photo set focuses on those people leaving from Djibouti.

UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. We have stepped up our work in Yemen under a US$17 million operation that includes extra staff, provision of additional shelter and assistance, and protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

Posted on 20 May 2008

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visits Mogadishu, expresses solidarity with Somali people on eve of Ramadan.
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In Kenya, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres discusses solutions for Somali refugees.
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Donor support for a specialized maternity-child clinic helps save the lives of displaced Somali mothers.