An estimated 42,000 Kenyans are living under false pretences in the Dadaab refugee camps, the United Nations said on Monday.
These Kenyan nationals are to undergo a “relocation” and “reintegration” process as part of an expanded effort by the UN refugee agency to reduce Dadaab’s population from 343,000 to 193,000 by the end of this year.
“We are aware of Kenyans falsely registering as refugees in order to get free services and food,” UN refugee agency spokesman Duke Mwancha told the Nation earlier this month.
The Kenyan government had called in May for a complete and expeditious shutdown of the Dadaab complex, saying it represented a threat to the country’s security.
Kenyan officials subsequently modified that position in consultations with the UN and the Somalia government, agreeing to the gradual phase-out cited by the refugee agency on Monday.
The UN is asking donors to provide an additional $115.4 million to carry out the agreed programme of refugee relocation and repatriation.
That new request comes on top of the $110 million that the refugee agency had sought last year to help finance the return of Somalis to their homeland.
But only $7.2 million of that amount had been raised as of last month.
Even as Dadaab’s population dwindles, the number of people in Kenya’s other large refugee complex, Kakuma, has been steadily increasing as thousands of South Sudanese flee renewed fighting in their country. And Kakuma will grow further under the plan outlined by the UN on Monday.
Some 16,000 non-Somali refugees, mainly Ethiopians, are to be moved from Dadaab to Kakuma, the UN said.
About 15,000 Somalis awaiting resettlement in their homeland are also to be relocated to Kakuma from Dadaab, the refugee agency added.The UN further aims to facilitate the repatriation of an additional 50,000 Somalis from Dadaab this year.
The refugee agency projects that another 170,000 Dadaab residents would voluntarily return to Somalia in 2017, possibly extending into 2018.
A total of about 17,000 Somalis have so far left Dadaab for their homeland under the repatriation initiative launched two years ago.
The UN is “committed to ensuring that all returns to Somalia are voluntary and carried out in dignity, safety and with the protection of refugees paramount at all times,” the agency’s Africa Bureau Director Valentin Tapsoba said on Monday.
“In order to do this we are requesting the international donor community to support this additional appeal so that returning Somalis can go back to their home country with the best possible opportunities to re-establish themselves and their families in peace and stability.”
Source: The Nation.