UN: UN agency, EU to support return of Somali refugees

New York, US (PANA) - UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres Wednesday
convened, with the European Union, a pledging conference to rally support for Somalia by creating conditions for the voluntary return of refugees to the east African nation, which is faced with one of the most complex crisis in recent history.

Mr. Guterres said in a statement obtained by PANA in New York that there is the need to invest in
Somalia so that some of the refugees who are currently stranded in refugee camps can go home and participate in rebuilding their country.

He noted that more than 2 million Somalis remain displaced in the region in a refugee situation
that has been going on for 23 years.

He also disclosed that Somalis are among the top 10 nationalities of those who have been
crossing the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015.

According to the statement, the meeting discussed how to concretely prepare for voluntary returns of Somali refugees from the region and enhance absorption capacity in areas of return in Somalia by strengthening humanitarian and development actions, as well as the security and
resilience of refugees and host communities in Kenya.

"The initial plan of action, which is aligned with the Somalia New Deal Compact framework, requires a total of $500 million and will run for two years until the end of 2017," the statement said.

At the end of the day, UNHCR said the pledging conference raised US$105 million.

UNHCR and partners have helped some 5,300 refugees to voluntarily return to Somalia since December 2014; while a significant number have returned spontaneously.

The refugee agency is now getting ready to move into the enhanced phase of this operation,
which will aim to assist 135,000 refugees to return to Somalia between January 2016 and
December 2017.

The majority of Somali refugees (420,000) are living in Kenya, mostly in the five refugee camps in Dadaab in the north-east of the country.

Nearly 250,000 Somali refugees are living in Ethiopia and a similar number in Yemen.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 21Oct2015

21 october 2015 21:11:55

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