“This is About Fear… Not About Choice”
Somaliland, sun – Refugees International has issued its latest field report on refugee returns from Kenya to Somalia.
The Kenyan government’s threat to close the Dadaab refugee camp by the end of November would not only endanger the lives of several hundred thousand Somali refugees but has already caused irreparable harm and damage. With no alternative options, some refugees have been coerced into repatriating to Somalia, where insecurity and an ongoing humanitarian crisis continue. The United Nations Refugee Agency’s focus on expediting the pace of returns – through a program that is supported by donors and implemented in partnership with non-governmental organizations – in the face of political pressure from Kenya, promotes large-scale returns that are unlikely to be sustainable. Development and reintegration initiatives in designated areas of return in Somalia need time to take hold; and, in the meantime, support for Somali refugees who remain in Kenya cannot be abandoned.
Highlights from the report include the following recommendations:
- The Kenyan government must lift its deadline of November 30, 2016, for closing the Dadaab refugee camp, cease coercive efforts to promote premature returns to Somalia, and assure refugees that they will not be forcibly repatriated;
- Beyond improving the quality of information provided at Return Help Desks in Dadaab, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) must expand its information campaign – with participation from Somalia-based sectoral partners – to share details about service availability, livelihoods opportunities, and security conditions in Somali areas of return through local radio messaging, social media, and direct engagement with and outreach to refugees;
- UNHCR must increase and extend post-return monitoring activities through regular phone communication with returnees to gather detailed information about the conditions and needs of returnees and inform coordinated planning for reintegration programs.