The UN refugee agency said Tuesday it has voluntarily repatriated some 72,000 Somali refugees from Kenya since the return exercise began in December 2014.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said a total of 70,202 Somalis from Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya, and 1,899 others from Kakuma refugee camp in northwest regions and Nairobi, were assisted in the framework of voluntary return to Somalia since the launch of voluntary repatriation on December 8, 2014.
“Currently there are 17,478 registered refugees willing to return to Somalia,” the refugee agency said in its bi-weekly update released in Nairobi.
During Aug. 16-31, some 1,337 refugees were supported to return to their homes in Somalia by flight to the capital city Mogadishu and southern port city of Kismayu.
However, the UN refugee agency said the Return Help Desks were witnessing a reduced number of persons seeking repatriation mainly due to the road movement being put on hold and return to Baidoa is suspended until further notice.
An estimated two 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 within Somalia and nearly 900,000 are refugees in the region.
Experts say continuing political and security stabilization progress in Somalia, along with growing pressures in hosting countries, makes this a critical moment to renew efforts to find durable solutions for Somali refugees.