Kenya: Somalis returning home after peace agreement
Thousands of Somali refugees who fled inter-clan fighting in the border town of Bula-Hawa in April have now started returning home after a peace agreement between local leaders took effect last week. The people who had taken refuge in the neighbouring Kenyan town of Mandera began repatriating on their own last Thursday. Around 10,000 refugees fled heavy fighting in Bula Hawa on March 30, leaving behind only 10 per cent of the town's population. Local Somali clan leaders agreed to change the District Commissioner and establish an inter-clan militia as part of the peace agreement.
Those who fled have lived with Mandera inhabitants for the past two months. UNHCR efforts to open a temporary shelter in the area were unsuccessful because the Kenyan government rejected the establishment of any site in the border town of Mandera due to security concerns. Kenyan authorities instead asked UNHCR to relocate the refugees to existing camps in Kakuma and Dadaab, further inside Kenya. UNHCR will aid vulnerable returnees with transport to make the short trip home. We are also assisting local health facilities with medical supplies. Around 1,500 Somalis have volunteered for transfer to Kenyan camps, moves which will follow the close of the repatriation, estimated to last about two weeks. Kenya hosts 208,000 refugees, 130,000 of them from Somalia.