The UN refugee agency said on Monday that it had helped 35,192 Somali refugees to return home since the exercise begun almost two years ago.
The UNHCR said 327 returnees were supported to voluntarily return to Somalia capital Mogadishu by flight from Nov. 1 to 15.
“Flight movements have now resumed and are currently operating three days per week. In total, as of Nov. 15, 35,192 Somali refugees had returned home since December 8, 2014, when UNHCR started supporting voluntary return of Somali refugees in Kenya, out of which 29,091 were supported in 2016 alone,” it said in its latest report.
Kenya in collaboration with the UN refugee agency are working on a program that will ensure a smooth and voluntary repatriation of over 300,000 refugees living in five camps at the Dadaab refugee camp after Nairobi announced the closure of the camp.
UNHCR said it has continued its interventions to support the refugees’ host community areas affected by the drought during the last six months in Dadaab, Fafi and Wajir South Sub-counties in northeast Kenya.
“To mitigate against the current drought, UNHCR and partners delivered approximately 2,800 cubic meters or 2.8 million litres of water to approximately 25,000 drought affected people in 28 villages from Oct. 22 to Nov. 11,” it said.
The UN refugee agency said it relocated 212 individuals (non- Somalis) to Kalobaye by UNHCR in collaboration with International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The UN agency said it expects the majority of the remaining refugee population to return to Somalia throughout 2017 and possibly into early 2018.
Kenya, which has since postponed the closure of Dadaab refugee camp, says it has put solid measures in place to fast-track repatriation of Somalia refugees and their re-integration in their native country.
The East African nation on Nov. 16 said it will delay by six months the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest.
UNHCR has supported people’s returns from Dadaab for years and in June, it worked with Kenya and Somalia to devise an action plan to that effect.
A survey between August and October found that 283,558 refugees were living at Dadaab, 58,000 fewer than in the past.
The UNHCR has since called on Kenya to be flexible in terms of a return time frame in order to meet the different elements of the plan that was devised earlier this year, citing a concern that rigid time frames would be difficult to meet.