Don’t Force Refugees Back To Somalia


BY The Star – Kenya

ON Sunday Kenya and Somalia signed a deal to return one million refugees to Somalia over the next three years. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees representative attended.

Kenya currently hosts around 610,000 documented refugees and 500,000 undocumented refugees in Daadab, Kakuma and elsewhere.The Somalia government only controls about 40 percent of the country. Without Amisom support, the government might collapse altogether.

Refugees do not want to remain abroad. Being a refugee is an awful existence. History has shown that refugees will return home willingly, and even spontaneously, once conditions are right. In the 1990s two million refugees without complaint left Uganda where they had been for 20 years and returned to southern Sudan.

If Somalia normalises, the refugees will not want to stay in Kenya where they will always be marginalised. The UNHCR statute and the Kenyan Refugees Act do not allow refugees to be repatriated home against their will.

This new agreement seems to assume that Somalia is back to normal, which it is not. It is good to make arrangements to help Somali refugees to go home but they should not be forced to do so, even if Somalia has not stabilised after another three years.