Published On: Sun, Nov 13th, 2016

More Somali refugees opt for returning home

Despite a raging war in many parts of Somalia, many Somali refugees are choosing to return home, Somali and UN officials told Xinhua, while urging international support for this trend.

Mariam Yassin Hagi Yussuf, a senior official in Somalia’s Office of the Prime Minister, told Xinhua in an interview in Kampala that many Somalis in the diaspora are choosing to return due to enhanced security back in Somalia.

“People miss home. If you feel you are stuck in your life, you are not moving, then it is better that you go back home,” said Yussuf, who is also in charge of children and migrants’ rights.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) over 200,000 of the 600,000 Somali refugees in Yemen have expressed willingness to return home.

Another 200 Somali refugees in Djibouti are also willing to go home, while thousands are set to be voluntarily repatriated from Kenya.

In anticipation of the increasing number of returnees, the Somali Government has established a national co-ordination mechanism where migration issues will be handled both at the federal and regional Government level.

Yussuf said the Government is also waiting for Parliament to enact a law on anti-trafficking and smuggling of migrants.

According to the Somali Government, many local youths are being trafficked out of the country. Many end up being abused and some die on the Mediterranean Sea as they try to access Europe.

“We are tackling the root causes of migration starting from insecurity, insufficient education, and lack of job opportunities. By tackling the root causes, we believe we will reduce the risk of people leaving the country,” she added.

Mohamed Abdi Affey, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Somalia Refugee Situation, told Xinhua in an interview that the country is in a critical state and needs all the international support as many Somalis are willing to return home.

He argued that the Somali crisis seems to have gone off the international agenda, which is now occupied by other emerging crises.

“This return means there should be focus on facilities inside the country so that the conditions are bearable for those who are coming back,” he said on the sides of a regional meeting on migrants in eastern Africa.

Affey called for continued support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which, he said, had helped to bring relative peace in Somalia.

He said the possible pull-out of some peacekeeping troops as some countries have suggested would be disastrous.

“AMISOM’s presence has contributed substantially to peace and stability of Somalia. I would request that any pull-out would be reconsidered before Somalia has a sufficient security force that can be able to protect its population,” he said.

Uganda, the largest troop contributor to the 22,000-strong African Union force, said it would pull out its troops by 2018 since it first deployed them in 2007. Kenya, another troop contributing country, also planned a withdrawal.

The AU Peace and Security Council in June said it planned to withdraw the entire contingent by October 2018, and by December 2020, the mission will have been fully transferred to the Somali National Army.

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