UNHCR returns 108,498 refugees to Somalia

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The UN refugee agency said on Friday that some 108,498 refugees have returned to Somalia since voluntary repatriation exercise begun in December 2014.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its Repatriation Update for Somalia that some 73,943 refugees were from Kenya, 33,921 from Yemen (33,511 spontaneous and 418 assisted) and 626 from other countries of asylum (589 from Djibouti, 34 from Eretria, two from Tunisia, and one from Pakistan).

“Throughout the October several factors have impacted the repatriation – deteriorating humanitarian situation in Baidoa, security concerns on the border between Kenya and Somalia (Dhobley town) and newly imposed landing fees in Kismayo,” said the UNHCR.

According to the UN refugee agency, due to these factors return movement to listed locations remained temporarily suspended.

An estimated 2 million Somalis have been displaced in one of the world’s most protracted humanitarian crises that have now entered its third decade.

About 1.1 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) within Somalia and nearly 900,000 are refugees in the region.

Experts say continuing political and security stabilization progress in Somalia, along with growing pressures in hosting countries, makes this a critical moment to renew efforts to find durable solutions for Somali refugees.

The report says 1,104 Somalis returned home, 775 from Yemen (490 spontaneous and 285 assisted) and 329 from Kenya in October.

The UN agency has started with a village savings and loans program targeting 65 beneficiaries (59 returnees and six IDPs).

“UNHCR continue to provide assistance to Somali refugees who decided to voluntarily return home. In order to ensure sustainable reintegration of Somali refugee returnees, UNHCR provides the enhanced return package,” it said.

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