UNHCR’s repatriation of Somali refugees in Kenya nears 50,000

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — The UN refugee agency said Tuesday that it has repatriated some 49,376 Somali refugees in Kenya since the return exercise begun in December 2014.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-weekly update that out of the figure, some 10,062 were supported in 2017 alone.

“The number of flights has been significantly increased as it remains the only mean of transportation to Somalia. Returns movements by air are organized to Mogadishu, Kismayu and Baidoa,” it said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

According to the UNHCR, road convoys were also organized from Dadaab in northeast Kenyan camp to Dhobley in Somalia respectively on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“For the time being, flights from Dadaab to Somalia remain suspended owing to the security alerts in Mogadishu since December 23, 2016,” it said.

The UNHCR said a total number of persons relocated to Kakuma/Kalobeyei camp in northwest Kenya was 2,431 as of Feb. 13. Out of this number, 2,220 were relocated since the resumption of the relocation process on Jan. 16.

The report came after two UN agencies last week warned that critical shortages in food assistance are affecting some 2 million refugees in ten African countries.

The UNHCR and WFP warned that the shortages could worsen in coming months without new resources to meet food needs.

According to the UN agencies, ten refugee operations in Africa have experienced cuts affecting the quantity and quality of food assistance for approximately 2 million refugees.

The agencies said food rations have been dramatically cut, in some cases by up to 50 percent, in large operations including in Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Mauritania, South Sudan and Uganda.