Dadaab refugee repatriation kicks off on July 1


The expected exodus from the Dadaab Refugee Camp is now drawing ever closer.

Next Friday, the government says it will repatriate thousands of refugees from the camp back to Somalia as stipulated in the timetable drawn by the national multi-agency refugee repatriation task force.

Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho says it will cost at least Kah20 billion to undertake the exercise. The United States government has pledged to assist in making the exercise successful and less painful for the refugees.

And so come Friday, the first batch of refugees will bid goodbye to this camp that has been their safe haven for a duration of a quarter century for some of them.

The government now says it has the backing of the UN and several other nations including the US, despite the serious objections raised at the beginning.

Speaking after a 21 km run at the Safaricom Marathon in Lewa Conservancy, Isiolo, US Ambassador in Kenya Robert Godec expounded on President Obama’s conversation with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We recognize that there are some issues and that ultimately they will need to go home and what we would urge is that it would be done in a way that respects the rights of the refugees, that respects the international agreements that Kenyan has signed on to and the refugees return home in safety and dignity and we welcome president Kenyatta to that effect that he will respect international conventions,” Godec said.

Although a number of refugees say they are not ready to return home just yet, and the international convention on refugees forbids against forcible repatriation, Interior Principal Secretary Eng. Karanja Kibicho says Kenya will be cautious not to break the law.

Until the advent of the Syrian war, the Dadaab refugee complex was the biggest refugee camp in the world.  And if the government’s plan goes according to its timetable, this camp will cease to exist in a matter of 4 months.

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Story By Sylvia Chebet
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