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EU pledges Sh5bn for Somali refugee resettlement programme

Friday, December 18, 2015

An aerial view of part of the eastern sector of the Ifo II camp in the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp on April 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA

The European Union has announced new funding worth €50 million (Sh5 billion) to support the resettlement of Somali refugees from the Dadaab Refugee camp.

A programme released by the European Commission shows that refugees staying at the Dadaab camp situated in Garissa County will benefit from a significant chunk of money allocated in a plan the EU says is meant to address instability in the Horn of Africa.

“This project aims to support the management of the voluntary return of Somalis hosted in Kenya, as well as other parts of the region and Europe.

“It aims to create a favourable environment for return and reintegration, including through economic and social development, increased access to basic services, economic opportunities, and improved peaceful coexistence of both returnees and return communities,” the Commission said in a statement.

The money to be released from January 2016 is part of a set of 16 programmes worth €300 million the European Union says will help address “the root causes of irregular migration and displacement, and to increase the positive impact of migration” mainly in the Horn of Africa.

Dadaab currently hosts about 335,000 Somali refugees though there are about 420,000 of them in Kenya. Kenya, Somalia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2013 reached a tripartite agreement for the voluntary return of these refugees to Somalia by end of 2016.

But the three would require about Sh10 billion to completely resettle the inhabitants of the world’s largest camp. Since the agreement, just about 5,000 refugees have been resettled in Somalia. The UNHCR argues Somalia is still insecure and there are still insufficient social amenities to accommodate all of them.

On Thursday, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr Neven Mimica said the pledge is part of an effort to address “forced displacement through concrete action.”

The money the EU announced on Thursday is part of a pledge made in October when it hosted a pledging conference on Somali refugees. At the time, Kenya and Somalia had hoped to raise Sh50 billion to resettle all Somali refugees living in Kenya.

But the more than 40 countries and organisations meeting in Belgium only managed to pledge $105 million (€94 million) towards the plan. This means that only about 135,000 refugees could be relocated from January next year to December of 2017. The tripartite agreement expires in September 2016.


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