Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - Many of the Somali refugees in Dadaab camp (in northeastern Kenya) "have agreed to return home because they fear Kenya will force them out if they stay" denounce Human Rights Watch (HRW).
According to the international humanitarian organization, there is nothing "voluntary" in the repatriation of Somalis and in sharp contrast with the agreement of November 2013, signed by Kenya, Somalia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which said it will make sure Somalis return in safety and dignity.
"Under international refugee practice, repatriation is only considered voluntary if refugees have a genuinely free choice about whether to return and are fully informed about conditions in their home country", said HRW in a statement sent to Fides.
In May 2016, the Kenyan government announced plans to speed up the repatriation of Somali refugees and close the Dadaab camp in northeastern Kenya by November. The Kenyan bishops criticized this decision on several occasions (see Fides 14/05/2016, 19/05/2016 and 02/07/2016).
As of mid–August, more than 24,000 Somalia refugees had returned to Somalia from Dadaab since the start of the repatriation process in December 2014. Of that total, 18,110 returned in 2016, 10,000 after the camp closure announcement in May.
On August 29, returns were suspended because local authorities in Jubaland, an interim regional administration in Somalia bordering Kenya to which many of the refugees are returning, said they could not sufficiently assist returning refugees. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 19/09/2016)