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U.N.H.C.R. says 1.02 million Somali refugees still in East Africa
Saturday, May 25, 2013

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The UN refugee agency said there are still 1.02 million Somali refugees mainly hosted in regional countries of East Africa despite improved security in the Horn of Africa nation.

According to latest report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the refugees are mainly hosted in Kenya, Yemen, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania and Uganda.

“Over 1.1 million Somalis are internally displaced within the country, settled mainly in the south-central region,” the refugee agency said in its latest report for May received on Saturday.

According to the report, 11,516 Somalis have so far sought refugee in neighboring countries in 2013. This is despite the Horn of Africa nation undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps that have helped bring an end to the country’s nine-year political transition period.

“In the month of April, 15,000 movements were reported in different areas in Somalia due to insecurity, floods, IDP evictions as well as cross-border movements. Some 920 movements have also been recorded so far in May,” UNHCR said.

The report says that the spontaneous returns of Somali refugees from Kenya, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen continue to be recorded with 3,284 people reported to have moved in April.

The agency said a total of 18,108 refugees have returned from the neighboring countries into Somalia since January. Somalia is the country generating the third highest number of refugees in the world after Afghanistan and Iraq.

The UNHCR’s report comes as Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto who is on a four-nation tour of Africa countries, said the instability in Somalia is piling pressure on the country’s security situation.

Ruto who spoke to Congo Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso and his Gabon counterpart Ali Bongo separately in their respective countries stressed the need to expand the African Union forces in Mogadishu to ensure the Horn of Africa country was stable.

“We need to stabilize Somalia fully because the continued absence of a stable government is piling a lot pressure on Kenya,” Ruto said according to a statement issued on Friday by his office.

Kenya, he added, was facing challenges in respect to hosting a big number of refugees and terrorist attacks from the Al-Shabaab.

Presidents Nguesso and Bongo respectively supported a proposal that AU should give enough resources and personnel to stabilize Somalia so that refugees can relocate back to their country so that Kenya can mange its security issues without external pressure.

The Kenyan deputy president briefed the two leaders on Kenya’s role in ensuring peace in the region. “The Somalia problem has compounded insecurity in Kenya with frequent attacks by the Al- Shaabab and proliferation of small arms,” Ruto said.

The East African nation has for many years generously hosted tens of thousands of Somalis refugees, fleeing fighting from central and southern Somalia whose lives were at substantial risk that requires international protection.

Kenya which hosted protracted negotiations that culminated in the formation of the transitional federal government of Somalia said the refugee situation continues to pose security threats to Nairobi and the region apart from the humanitarian crisis.

Relief agencies working in Daadab camp which hosts mainly Somali refugees attribute the movement to refugees crossing the border back to Somalia as that of refugees returning in search of work in Somalia as well as to check up on their farms and the assess the situation on the ground, especially as Al-Shaabab has ceded many towns and areas following the offensive by the AMISOM forces.

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