President Kenyatta appeals for increased support for Somalia

IGAD special summit on refugees held in Nairobi

What you need to know:

  • He said now is the opportune time for Somalis to return and rebuild their country.
  • Ethiopia’s Prime Minister said the search for a long-term solution to the refugee problem must be placed at the center of peace and security efforts.


President Uhuru Kenyatta has lauded various organisations for facilitating peaceful elections in Somalia, pointing it out as a step in the right direction.

Mr Kenyatta also rooted for durable solutions to the Somali refugee problem.

He said the presidential election is the latest indication that the war-torn nation is on the right track, thanks to the determination of its people, the commitment by the African Union and the support of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).

"Indeed, the recent election of President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed is the latest and clearest indication of the progressive success of our collective efforts, alongside the brave people of Somalia," he spoke during the Igad summit in Nairobi today.

The purpose of the meeting is to find a lasting solution to the refugee crisis in Somalia.

"What is clear to me, as it is to you leaders and to all the Somali refugees, is that the time for lasting solutions is now," President Kenyatta, who is also the Igad rapporteur, said.

He said that a refugee camp is not a sustainable solution, indicating that now is the opportune time for Somalis to return and rebuild their country.

He detailed how more than 400,000 refugees from Somalia have been crammed into Dadaab camp for more than two decades.

He said the facility operated with a fraction of the budget it requires and life has been hard on the inhabitants.

Mr Kenyatta once again highlighted how terrorists have exploited the purity of the camp to carry out their activities.

"It is not acceptable to us that a space that is supposed to provide safety and assistance is transformed to facilitate agents of terror and destruction."

One of the cardinal reasons that informed the closure of Daadab last year was that terror groups such as Al-Shabaab were using it as a recruitment ground, among other activities.


The Head of State added that Kenya reached the decision to shut down the camp after the security situation in Somalia improved.

"Dadaab has become a protracted situation, characterized by hopelessness that easily feeds environmental destruction; conflicts between refugees and host communities; insecurity; radicalization; criminality; that allows terrorist operatives to exploit it for their operational efforts."

He said majority of the refugees want to go back home and so far 60,000 have voluntarily returned to Somalia.

The President said Kenya has already committed more than Sh100 million to support voluntary repatriation of refugees.

Mr Kenyatta said he recently hosted the new Somalia President where he pledge to help build the capacity of the country's institutions, including training teachers, nurses, and administrators.

He said Kenya has also pledged another Sh100 million to construct a technical training institute to train refugee youth before they go back home.

Mr Kenyatta reached out to the international community to also chip in in efforts that will enable and encourage refugees to return while the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) continues to provide security.

The President also called on humanitarian and development actors to operate in Somalia as the country continues to gather pace in return to normalcy.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn – who is the Igad chairman – said the search for a long-term solution to the refugee problem must be placed at the center of peace and security efforts in the region.

Mr Desalegn applauded the timing of the conference, saying: "This meeting could hardly be more timely to address the plight of the Somali refugees."


Saying President Mohamed has a clear vision to develop the country and address the problem, Mr Desalegn called for enhanced capacity for the Somali administration to win the war against terrorism, abetted by groups such as Al-Shabaab, to ensure peace and security.

He encouraged development partners and financial institutions to continue supporting the resilience of refugee hosting countries and facilitate the voluntary repatriation and resettlement of refugees.

President Mohamed outlined the strategies his government has put in place to provide a durable solution to the matter at hand, including equipping the youth with skills and training that will enable them participate effectively in rebuilding their nation.

He urged humanitarian organisations and development partners to relocate to Somalia, saying his government is committed to providing a conducive environment within which they can operate comfortably.

Other Igad Heads of State in attendance are Presidents Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) while Sudan was represented by its Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdulrahman.


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.