UN roots for investments in Somalia to facilitate return of refugees

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (Photo © UNHCR/S.Hopper)

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Antonio Guterres, head of the UN refugee agency on Wednesday called on multilateral agencies to invest in social programs and physical infrastructure in Somalia in order to facilitate return of refugees to the Horn of African nation.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees also told journalists in Nairobi that smooth repatriation of Somali refugees’ hinges on improved security and living conditions.

“The international community remains committed to faster and methodical repatriation of Somalia refugees, but their safety is paramount. We have identified investments in education, health and food security to ensure they have a decent livelihood,” said Guterres who arrived in the country for a three-day visit.

His visit to Kenya came against a backdrop of calls from the Kenyan government to repatriate Somalia refugees living in northeastern parts of the country over rising insecurity.

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto on April 11 said the government had given the international community a three-month deadline to relocate Somalia refugees, saying the camps have become a bleeding ground for terrorism.

Kenya has signed a tripartite agreement with UNHCR and Somalia government to facilitate smooth repatriation of refugees.

Guterres said President Uhuru Kenyatta assured him the government will not forcibly evict Somalia refugees from Dadaab camp.

“We are in solidarity with the Kenyan government on the need to boost security in Dadaab refugee camp to avert future terror attacks,” Guterres said.

He added that Kenyan leaders assured him that repatriation of Somalia refugees will be done in the context of the tripartite agreement.

The UN refugee agency has identified regions inside Somalia that are safe for refugees to be resettled.

Guterres said that a security assessment has been done on regions that refugees should be resettled to enable them contribute to their country’s reconstruction.

“We have identified a range of projects that donors should invest in to encourage refugees to return home. These projects includes roads, agriculture, education, health and water,” said Guterres.

He revealed donors will soon convene an international conference to discuss sustainable funding towards voluntary repatriation of Somalia refugees.

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