By Magdalene Mukami
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Somalia is ready to receive its people from Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, now set for closure, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Wednesday after talks with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta.
In a joint communiqué from State House in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Mohamud said that in a visit to Dadaab on Monday, he told Somali refugees there that the government is committed to receive them back home to participate in the process of state-building, peace-building, and national reconciliation.
Mohamud told reporters that he had reassured the Somali refugees at Dadaab that their repatriation would be orderly, humane, and dignified as per the tripartite agreement between Kenya, Somalia, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“This is a historic moment, as you have heard from the communiqué. We will be working together and our two nations will become friends for the generations and centuries to come,” he added.
The camp opened in 1991 as a haven for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing civil war, lawlessness, and recurrent droughts in Somalia.
Kenya made headlines last month when it announced controversial plans to shut the camp by this November due to security concerns.
“Twenty-five years is a large time to host such a large community,” Mohamud explained. “I think that Somalia needs these people back home. Kenya has been sacrificing its resources to host these needy brothers and sisters who ran away from difficult times in Somalia. This journey that started 25 years ago has to end.”
On the issue of the timeframe for repatriation, Kenya’s Kenyatta said that they have set up a team from both sides to work on the issue and that the refugees will be sent to Somalia as soon as possible in an orderly manner and in accordance with international laws, rules, and regulations.
Kenyatta added that he and Mohamud had useful discussions towards further strengthening the cordial relationship between their two countries.