The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Saturday more than 33,000 Somali refugees living at Kenya’s Dadaab camp have returned to their motherland since December 2014.
“In total, as of Oct. 15, 33,178 Somali refugees had returned home since December 8, 2014, when UNHCR started supporting voluntary return of Somali refugees in Kenya, out of which 27,077 were supported in 2016 alone,” a UNHCR report said.
The report said some 517 refugees had been repatriated in the past two weeks by flight, adding that flight movements have now resumed and are currently operating three days per week.
“Owing to the suspension of reception of road convoys by the (Somalia’s) Jubaland administration, the operation began facilitating return to Baidoa by flights,” it added.
According to the UNHCR, road convoys were suspended from Aug. 30, after the Jubaland administration told the UNHCR Somalia it would not receive any more returnees until “integration process” inside Somalia was addressed.
The UNHCR said two flights would continue to transport returnees to Jubaland every two days a week until further notice.
Jubaland, which borders Kenya, is an autonomous region in southern Somalia.
UN agencies in Somalia held a meeting with the Jubaland administration last month, after which they said Jubaland agreed to cooperate in the reintegration of the returnees.
Kenya says it is working with the UNHCR to repatriate the over 300,000 Somalis living at Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. It said earlier this year it would close Dadaab, citing security concerns.
Last week, the UNHCR said a total of 26,819 Somali refugees had in principle confirmed their intention to return home and were waiting to be facilitated to start their journeys.