The Kenyan government has called on Asian countries to support its efforts to repatriate the hundreds of thousands of Somalia refugees now in refugee camps in Kenya, ahead of an international conference on the subject to be held in August this year.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting with a group of ambassadors from Asian countries here Monday, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary (Minister) Amina Mohammed said the plans for the repatriation of all Somalia refugees was critical and she hoped the Asian countries would give their financial and economic support.
Amina said that currently there were more than one million Somali refugees in Kenya, of whom 600,000 were formally registered.
“The good news is that almost 50 per cent of the refugees have been asking to go back to their country and therefore it will be a voluntary process,” she said.
She revealed that Kenya and Somalia had almost finished mapping out secure places in Somalia where the repatriated refugees would be relocated to.
“We are seeking your support in ensuring we have an appropriate level of support to enable them to resettle peacefully in their homeland,” she told the ambassadors.
The ambassadors said their countries were ready to give the support the Kenyan government would require, including bilateral consultations to ensure that the issue was handled speedily.
The latest developments in moves to repatriate the Somali refugees are happening barely after two months after medical volunteer group Medicins sans Frontiers (MSF) disputed the plans, saying that the security conditions on the ground were not yet conducive for the repatriation of the refugees.
The conference to be held in the second week of August will discuss modalities of repatriating more than one million Somali refugees to their country.
The conference will be co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Somalia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the International Organisation for Immigration (IOM) being invited to participate.