Somalia: UNHCR steps up repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya

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NAIROBI, Kenya - The UN refugee agency said Sunday it repatriated 832 refugees in the past two weeks to Somalia as the UN agency stepped up returns from Kenya.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-monthly report released in Nairobi that some 83 refugees were returned to Mogadishu city while 749 were taken to Kismayo in southern Somalia between Sept. 1-15.

"The cumulative total number of persons repatriated from Kenya to Somalia stands at 73,031," the UNHCR said of the number of Somalis who have been assisted in the framework of voluntary return to Somalia since the launch of the exercise on December 8, 2014.

The UN agency said a total of 71,034 out of 73,031 individuals were repatriated voluntarily from the Dadaab refugee camp which is located in northeast Kenya.

The Kenyan government said the refugee situation continued to pose security threats to Nairobi and the region apart from the humanitarian crisis.

The East African nation which has been planning to close the Dadaab refugee camp, cited the influence of Al-Shabaab militants as among the risks of keeping the camps open.

According to UNHCR, currently there are 17,229 refugees who are willing to return to Somalia, with 11,358 being registered in 2017 alone. Registration is ongoing.

"Due to suspension of road movements, and returns to Baidoa being put on hold until further notice, the Return Help Desks (RHD) continue to receive a reduced number of persons seeking return," it said.

An estimated 2 million Somalis have been displaced in one of the world's most protracted humanitarian crises that have now entered its third decade.

An estimated 1.1 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) within Somalia.

Experts held that strengthened political and security stabilization progress in Somalia, along with growing pressures in hosting countries, makes it a critical moment to renew efforts to find durable solutions for Somali refugees.

Source: Xinhua

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