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Doubts Arise Over RepatriatingRefugees1 July 2013 , Source: IRINMogadishuAs plans to facilitate the return of hundreds ofthousands of Somali refugees fromneighbouring Kenya gather steam, seriousdoubts persist about whether conditions inSomalia are conducive to such a large-scalerepatriation operation.There are some 600,000 Somali refugees inKenya, according to government figures, morethan two thirds of whom live in the sprawling,20-year-old Dadaab complex in the east of thecountry.In recent years Kenya has repeatedlyexpressed a desire to ease its “refugeeburden” and on 5 June President UhuruKenyatta and his Somali counterpart HassanSheikh Mohammed met in Nairobi to move theprocess forward. They agreed that aconference would be held in August to workout the modalities of repatriation and also toset up a tripartite committee with the UNRefugee Agency (UNHCR).”This is part of Somali government policies…Somalia is now on the path to economicrecovery as well as security improvement,” saidAbdirahman Omar Osman, an adviser to theSomali president, told IRIN.Mohamed Omar Dalha, the deputy chairman ofSomalia’s Parliamentary Commission for ForeignAffairs, was more cautious. “It does not matterif they [the refugees] are sent to relativelypeaceful areas like Mogadishu and Baidoa…[But] large swathes of the country are stillcontrolled by militants. We have to be carefulabout the security of these people,” he said.Abdullahi Mohamed Shirwa, the chairman of anetwork of civil society organizations in centraland southern Somalia, said of the plannedrelocations: “There are blasts – suicide attacks -and people are fleeing in the southern town ofKismayo as conflicts [are] renewed. The veryreasons that forced these people to flee stillexist, so there is no point why they should bereturned. They will not have access to health[or] education services in these areas.”Dangerous narrativeMark Yarnell, Africa refugee advocate atRefugees International, told IRIN that while theinternational community should support thoserefugees who do want to repatriate voluntarily,”the narrative that Somalia is safe and ready forlarge-scale returns – when the federalgovernment only controls a fraction of thecountry – is dangerous…”The current situation on the ground in Somaliadefinitely does not allow for a mass repatriationof refugees. Certainly, there are areas inSomalia that are becoming safer and secure,but the stability is fragile. In areas controlled bythe Somali Federal Government, Al-Shababmaintains the capacity to carry out majorattacks (such as the tragic attack last week onthe UN compound in Mogadishu); and in”liberated” cities like the port city of Kismayo,rival warlords are fighting for control, forcingcivilians to flee,” Yarnell said.This view was echoed by UNHCR Somaliaspokesman Andy Needham: “There have beensome encouraging developments in Somalialately but these improvements do not meanthat large numbers of Somali refugees can allgo home yet. It will take time before conditionsin general, for example security as well as lawand order, are restored throughout Somalia andlocal administrations are rebuilt.”UNHCR’s position – as elsewhere around theworld – is that refugees should make informeddecisions about whether to return home andshould return home voluntarily in safety anddignity. UNHCR therefore hopes that countriesof asylum will continue to afford Somalirefugees protection until they can go home,”he told IRIN in an email.”I can assure you that we will do it[repatriation] in an orderly and most humanemanner which upholds the dignity to ourvisitors,” Kenya’s cabinet secretary for foreignaffairs, Amina Mohammed, was quoted assaying in local press reports this week.So far this year, 17,000 Somali refugees living inKenya returned to Somalia, according toUNHCR, which pointed out that some of themmay have done so only temporarily, for exampleto plant crops.ApprehensionHubio Abdi Kilass, a mother of three, has livedin Dadaab for the past 20 years. She told IRINthat despite the difficulty of life in Dadaab,Somalia is not yet peaceful enough to warranther return.”You can see how we are struggling to collectfood rations in this scorching sun, but I cannottrust to go back to Somalia so early, because Iam sure I will be forced to run away again dueto the ongoing conflict between the variousfactions fighting for power. I don’t want to be arefugee two times. I would rather stay longerthan risk my life,” she said.Aid officials told IRIN there is apprehensionamong refugees about possible repatriation, inpart because they are not sure about thenature of the process but also because of theunpredictable security situation in Somalia.”Refugees do not know about the conditionsthey might be going back to. Those withproperty are afraid of losing what they haveacquired over time,” said Rufus Karanja,spokesperson at Refugee Consortium of Kenya.”We don’t know about the details of theagreement but we believe it will follow bestpractices where those willing to go back arealso facilitated to have ‘a visit to see’opportunity,” Karanja added.Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs)inside Somalia lack basic amenities and areovercrowded.”I came back to [my] homeland because Ithought life [had] improved, but [what] Iencountered and what I had expected arequite different. We do not have enough healthservices nor do we have enough food, so whatsort of repatriation are they talking about?”Zahra, a mother of six who recently returnedfrom the Kenyan refugee camp of Hagadera inDadaab, told IRIN from one such camp inMogadishu.There are an estimated one million IDPs inSomalia.

Doubts Arise Over Repatriating
Refugees
1 July 2013 , Source: IRIN
Mogadishu
As plans to facilitate the return of hundreds of
thousands of Somali refugees from
neighbouring Kenya gather steam, serious
doubts persist about whether conditions in
Somalia are conducive to such a large-scale
repatriation operation.
There are some 600,000 Somali refugees in
Kenya, according to government figures, more
than two thirds of whom live in the sprawling,
20-year-old Dadaab complex in the east of the
country.
In recent years Kenya has repeatedly
expressed a desire to ease its “refugee
burden” and on 5 June President Uhuru
Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Hassan
Sheikh Mohammed met in Nairobi to move the
process forward. They agreed that a
conference would be held in August to work
out the modalities of repatriation and also to
set up a tripartite committee with the UN
Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
“This is part of Somali government policies…
Somalia is now on the path to economic
recovery as well as security improvement,” said
Abdirahman Omar Osman, an adviser to the
Somali president, told IRIN.
Mohamed Omar Dalha, the deputy chairman of
Somalia’s Parliamentary Commission for Foreign
Affairs, was more cautious. “It does not matter
if they [the refugees] are sent to relatively
peaceful areas like Mogadishu and Baidoa…
[But] large swathes of the country are still
controlled by militants. We have to be careful
about the security of these people,” he said.
Abdullahi Mohamed Shirwa, the chairman of a
network of civil society organizations in central
and southern Somalia, said of the planned
relocations: “There are blasts – suicide attacks –
and people are fleeing in the southern town of
Kismayo as conflicts [are] renewed. The very
reasons that forced these people to flee still
exist, so there is no point why they should be
returned. They will not have access to health
[or] education services in these areas.”
Dangerous narrative
Mark Yarnell, Africa refugee advocate at
Refugees International, told IRIN that while the
international community should support those
refugees who do want to repatriate voluntarily,
“the narrative that Somalia is safe and ready for
large-scale returns – when the federal
government only controls a fraction of the
country – is dangerous…
“The current situation on the ground in Somalia
definitely does not allow for a mass repatriation
of refugees. Certainly, there are areas in
Somalia that are becoming safer and secure,
but the stability is fragile. In areas controlled by
the Somali Federal Government, Al-Shabab
maintains the capacity to carry out major
attacks (such as the tragic attack last week on
the UN compound in Mogadishu); and in
“liberated” cities like the port city of Kismayo,
rival warlords are fighting for control, forcing
civilians to flee,” Yarnell said.
This view was echoed by UNHCR Somalia
spokesman Andy Needham: “There have been
some encouraging developments in Somalia
lately but these improvements do not mean
that large numbers of Somali refugees can all
go home yet. It will take time before conditions
in general, for example security as well as law
and order, are restored throughout Somalia and
local administrations are rebuilt.
“UNHCR’s position – as elsewhere around the
world – is that refugees should make informed
decisions about whether to return home and
should return home voluntarily in safety and
dignity. UNHCR therefore hopes that countries
of asylum will continue to afford Somali
refugees protection until they can go home,”
he told IRIN in an email.
“I can assure you that we will do it
[repatriation] in an orderly and most humane
manner which upholds the dignity to our
visitors,” Kenya’s cabinet secretary for foreign
affairs, Amina Mohammed, was quoted as
saying in local press reports this week.
So far this year, 17,000 Somali refugees living in
Kenya returned to Somalia, according to
UNHCR, which pointed out that some of them
may have done so only temporarily, for example
to plant crops.
Apprehension
Hubio Abdi Kilass, a mother of three, has lived
in Dadaab for the past 20 years. She told IRIN
that despite the difficulty of life in Dadaab,
Somalia is not yet peaceful enough to warrant
her return.
“You can see how we are struggling to collect
food rations in this scorching sun, but I cannot
trust to go back to Somalia so early, because I
am sure I will be forced to run away again due
to the ongoing conflict between the various
factions fighting for power. I don’t want to be a
refugee two times. I would rather stay longer
than risk my life,” she said.
Aid officials told IRIN there is apprehension
among refugees about possible repatriation, in
part because they are not sure about the
nature of the process but also because of the
unpredictable security situation in Somalia.
“Refugees do not know about the conditions
they might be going back to. Those with
property are afraid of losing what they have
acquired over time,” said Rufus Karanja,
spokesperson at Refugee Consortium of Kenya.
“We don’t know about the details of the
agreement but we believe it will follow best
practices where those willing to go back are
also facilitated to have ‘a visit to see’
opportunity,” Karanja added.
Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs)
inside Somalia lack basic amenities and are
overcrowded.
“I came back to [my] homeland because I
thought life [had] improved, but [what] I
encountered and what I had expected are
quite different. We do not have enough health
services nor do we have enough food, so what
sort of repatriation are they talking about?”
Zahra, a mother of six who recently returned
from the Kenyan refugee camp of Hagadera in
Dadaab, told IRIN from one such camp in
Mogadishu.
There are an estimated one million IDPs in
Somalia.

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