Kenya in talks to send 600,000 refugees home

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Daily Nation – Kenya

The Cabinet has approved the return of more than 600,000 refugees to their countries from January next year.

The six months before the exercise will be sufficient time to prepare for the relocations, according to Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia.

“We are preparing and negotiating with countries where the refugees come from before we begin the official relocation. Kenya has to be freed of the 600,000 refugees from next year,” said Mr Kimemia.

Voluntary repatriation

“This is one way to secure the country and we decided to fast-track their relocation since it’s a major concern to the government.”

Last month, Kenya and Somalia signed a “voluntary repatriation” deal and plans are being made to start moving the people back to their home.

Last year Nairobi ordered more than 30,000 refugees in urban areas to return to the camps.

Mainly targeted for repatriation are refugees of Somali origin and this, Mr Kimemia said, was the reason the Kenya Defence Forces were still in Somalia. “We have to stabilise Somalia first so that the refugees can go home.”

After signing the repatriation deal last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta said help was being sought from the international community.

“We have called for the support of Igad, UNHCR and the international community to ensure the success of this exercise,” Mr Kenyatta said.

Attacks and kidnappings

He disclosed that he and Somali leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had discussed threats, attacks and kidnappings by Al-Shabaab on innocent people in the two countries and agreed on joint security operations.

Mr Kenyatta briefed President Mohamud on Kenya’s position regarding the disproportionate burden of hosting the refugees and the economic, social, security and environmental consequences.

The two leaders agreed to establish a joint taskforce to prepare for a confere