UN backs Kenya bid to resettle Somali refugees

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (L) delivers a speech as 5th TICAD chairman and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (R) listens. Ki-Moon said Kenya’s push for resettlement of more than 600,000 refugees who live in camps in the northern part of the country should be supported by the international community.

What you need to know:

  • Ruto said that a summit on Somalia will be held in September in Nairobi to map out the way forward on the resettlement of refugees.

The United Nations has pledged to support Kenya in its bid to repatriate Somali refugees saying hosting them has been a difficult task.

Speaking during a meeting with Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto at the UN offices in Yokohama, Japan, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that UN would support efforts to resettle the refugees who have been living in refugee camps in Kenya.

Ki-Moon said Kenya’s push for resettlement of more than 600,000 refugees who live in camps in the northern part of the country should be supported by the international community.

Ruto said that a summit on Somalia will be held in September in Nairobi to map out the way forward on the resettlement of refugees.

“What we want is to have a safe return of the Somalis to their country and we would appreciate UN support on this. We are engaged in talks with United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on the resettlement issue,” Ruto said. He said that there was need to resolve the refugees crisis as a matter of priority so as to ensure that the horn of Africa has lasting peace.

“When I visited Daadab refugee camp last year, I witnessed a very sad situation where 600,000 people are crowded in one place. That population alone is more than that of some countries in the world," said Mr Ki-Moon.

“I could feel the huge challenge Kenya was facing and I sympathized with the President at that time because of instability in Somalia," he added.

This comes after foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed met with Somalia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Fawzia Yusuf Adam on Friday and discussed the translocation of the refugees.

Mr Ruto thanked UN for elevating the Nairobi office, saying Kenya and the African continent was grateful for the move and that the government would ensure that UN staff were safe and operate within a safe environment.

Ruto said Kenya was committed to the peace process in Somalia so that it could concentrate on its internal issues.
“We had a porous border with no government on the other side (Somali) and we (Kenya) risked by taking our soldiers there because it was becoming untenable to watch elements cause insecurity in Kenya,” Ruto said.

The Deputy President said Kenya was banking on the support of the UN and the international community in the bid to ensure peace prevails in Somalia and resettling of the refugees.

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