The repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya’s north eastern border has seen thousands of people head back home.
Since the first phase of voluntary repatriation began in 2015, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has returned over 10,000 refugees from the Dadaab camp.
Dadaab, the largest refugee settlement in the world, is home to more than 400,000 refugees mainly Somalis.
As a result of increasing stability in Somalia, refugees have started to return.
Last year, close to 6,000 Somalis went back home under the voluntary repatriation programme. The UN refugee agency plans to return about 50,000 Somali’s this year.
In the wake of terror attacks in the country, the Kenyan government gave the United Nations three months to relocate the Dadaab camp that has hosted refugees mainly from Somalia for more than two decades.
The government gave this directive after Somali insurgent group Al-Shabaab carried out an attack at a university in the north eastern part of the country that left at least 148 people dead in April.
Kenya seeks to shut down the refugee camp claiming it is a ‘breeding ground’ for terrorists.
The move to shut down the camp has however been met with criticism from various quarters.
Nevertheless, a Tripartite Commission formed by the UN refugee agency and the governments of Kenya and Somalia, agreed to scale up assistance to Somali refugees in Kenya wishing to return home.
Furthermore, the commission agreed on a five-year scheme that envisages the repatriation of some 425,000 Somali refugees.
Dadaab was set up by the UNHCR in 1991 after civil war erupted in Somalia. At its peak, the camp was home to 580,000 refugees.