UNHCR seeks extra 115 mln USD for return of Somali refugees from Kenya


The UN refugee agency on Tuesday appealed to donors for an additional 115.4 million U.S. dollars for voluntary return, reintegration of Somali refugees from Dadaab camp in northeast Kenya.

A statement from the UNHCR said the funds requested will also go toward the relocation of 31,000 refugees from Dadaab to Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya and verification of camp population.

The UN refugee agency had previously appealed for 369.4 million dollars for the “Somalia situation”.

“With this additional ask, and with some re-prioritization of projects, UNHCR’s total revised 2016 requirements for this response in the affected countries (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia) is now 484.8 million dollars,” it said.

UNHCR’s Africa Bureau Director Valentin Tapsoba said funding is also required for related projects and infrastructure in Kenya and Somalia.

“UNHCR is committed to ensuring that all returns to Somalia are voluntary and carried out in dignity, safety and with the protection of refugees paramount at all times,” said Tapsoba.

Kenya in May announced that it will close the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab and plans to repatriate the more than 300,000 Somali refugees.

The East African nation has cited the influence of terror group Al-Shabaab as among the risks of keeping the camps open.

UNHCR has developed a plan of action which outlines a process intended to reduce the population of Dadaab, currently 343,043 (326,611 Somalis), by 150,000 by the end of 2016.

It said the 115 million dollars requested will go toward relocation of 16,000 non-Somali refugees from Dadaab to Kakuma as well as relocating of 15,000 Somali refugees currently in the resettlement process to Kakuma.

According to UNHCR, the funds will also help in relocation, reintegration of an estimated 42,000 Kenyans believed registered as refugees.

The UN agency said verification of the Dadaab population and a comprehensive Return Intention Survey and support for an additional 50,000 voluntary Somali refugee returns from Dadaab to Somalia, will also be carried out with additional funds.

“This additional funding is also required for the proposed increase in the return assistance package before departure from Kenya and upon return to Somalia. It is proposed to increase the return grant from 150 dollars to 200 dollars for Somalis returning by road,” UNHCR said.

According to the agency, those with specific needs would receive an additional 75 dollars while for the smaller number of returnees travelling by air, the return grant would be increased from 100 dollars to 150 dollars, with an additional 30 dollars for those with specific needs.

“Returnees will also be provided with a package of non-food items,” it said, noting that donor support is sought to fund an increase in the return assistance package in Somalia side.

The UNHCR is proposing to remove the cap of 600 dollars per family reinstallation grant and instead offer returnees 200 dollars per person, regardless of family size, a move which should see more large families opt to return.

“In order to assist with initial reintegration, each returning family will be supported with 200 dollars per family monthly payment for six months in order to help cover basic needs. The possibility of providing health insurance for urban returnees will also be considered,” it said.

UNHCR plans to increase food assistance from three months support to six, possibly even further if the donor support is received.