Somalia refugees can go home in peace, and expect to be received with both hands, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud has said.
The Somalia President said his country is ready to receive the refugees repatriated from the Dadaab camp in Kenya so that they take part in nation building.
He was speaking at a joint press conference with President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.
President Mohamoud said the repatriation would be orderly.
According to the head of state, Somalia refugees had already identified the places where they want to be resettled. He added that his government has put infrastructure to accommodate them.
This comes after Kenya announced last month that it would no longer accept refugees from Somalia citing security reasons.
Kenya, which hosts around 600,000 refugees, many of them from neighboring Somalia and South Sudan has suffered terrorist attacks, leaving hundreds dead and many people more injured. Kenya has seen an increase in bombs, grenade and armed attacks on its soil, masterminded by Somali rebel group Al Shabaab. The most recent attack being the Garissa University massacre which killed 148 people, many of them students, with 79 others injured.
"The Government of the Republic of Kenya, having taken into consideration its national security interests, has decided that hosting of refugees has to come to an end," said a statement signed by Interior Ministry Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
Following the announcement by Kenya, several rights group including Amnesty International have come out seeking to stop a directive to close the camp.
The rights groups claim the directive violates international laws, but Kenya has remained adamant that the move is timely and well thought-out.
“Kenya is committed to close the camp,” Nkaissery said. “It is a decision we have already reached, and we will jointly collaborate with the Somali government and the UNHCR on your safe return.”
President Mohamoud, the first-ever sitting Somali leader to visit the extensive camp, the biggest in the world, thanked Kenya for hosting the refugees and taking care of them for the past 25 years.
“We thank Kenya for hosting a large number of our people and we will never forget it, but keep in mind that your return to your country is a sign of a revival of Somalia’s peace. You can make a difference in your country when you get back,” the president told an audience of refugees.
Although, the Somalia president highlighted his concerns over the development noting that neither Kenya, Somalia or the UNHCR ever discussed and agreed on the “quick return to an uncertain future.”
“We do not want you to go back forcibly without services such as shelters, education, health services in place. We want you to get at least services similar to what you get here,” Mohamoud said.
Despite the uncertainty of the plan and the insecurity in Somalia, the Somali government said it is ready to cooperate with the UN refugee agency and Kenyan government to ensure a smooth and voluntary repatriation of the camp residents.
Image credit: via @TheVillaSomalia/Twitter