"Unrealistic and inhumane" – citicism of the repatriation agreement for refugees from Somalia

More than one million refugees from Somalia are supposed to leave Kenya

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticizes the planned repatriation of more than one million Somali refugees in neighboring Kenya to be "unrealistic and inhumane". "As long as the situation in Somalia is not safe, it is irresponsible to repatriate the refugees," said the STP's Africa-consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Monday. "Even Somalia's capital city Mogadishu is still not safe. There are many bomb attacks and political murders." The Somali authorities didn't even manage to offer the 369,000 IDPs in Mogadishu accommodations that are worthy of human beings. "So how are they supposed to provide adequate accommodation and supplies for 1.1 million more refugees in such an emergency situation?"

On Sunday, Kenya and Somalia signed an agreement regarding the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees under the mediation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There are 610,000 officially recognized refugees from neighboring countries living in Kenya – and about 500,000 illegal immigrants. The controversial repatriation plan is supposed to be completed within three years. Kenya's government is trying to send the refugees home very soon, especially after Somali terrorists attacked a shopping center in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in September 2013, killing 67 people. At the end of October 2013, Joseph Ndathi – the governor of the Kirinyaga district (located at the border to Somalia) – even called the refugees a threat to the country's national security.

A decision by "Doctors Without Borders" clearly shows how insecure the situation in many rural areas of Somalia is today. After working in the region for many years, the organization had recently announced to leave the country – in which the civil war has been going on for the last two decades – because it is not possible to guarantee safety for the employees. Most recently, four people were killed in a bomb attack in Mogadishu on November 8, 2013.

Only about 30,000 refugees have returned to Somalia from Kenya or Ethiopia voluntarily in 2013. More than 400,000 refugees are still living in precarious conditions in the camps of Dadaab, a tent city in an extremely impoverished and desert-like region of Kenya, close to the border to Somalia. In July 2013, a government initiative to round up all the Somali refugees who fled to the Kenyan cities in the camps of Dadaab was declared unconstitutional by the Kenyan Supreme Court. The refugees often experience mistrust and hostility, especially in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.