Over 75,000 refugees have been voluntarily repatriated from the government of Kenya, Somalia and the UNHCR signed a voluntary repatriation agreement on November 10, 2013.

According to UNHCR records as at December 15, 72,362 refugees had been repatriated from Daadab to Kismayu, Mogadishu, Baidoa and other areas, with 17,791 others set to leave soon.

There are about 500,000 refugees in Kenya. 285,705 are Somalis residing at the Daadab camp established in 1991.

Denis Alma Kuindje, UNHCR’s senior protection coordinator, said 17,000 refugees are willing to go back to their home country from early next year.

Some said they will return to their country of birth, irrespective of the security situation. “Since the process was launched in late 2013, the number of refugees in camps has gone down. It is important to note that the UNCHR is only facilitating the return to areas considered safe,” Kuindje said.

Kuindje said repatriation to Baidoa has been suspended due to a drought and a cholera outbreak. He acknowledged that there are refugees who have sneaked back to the camps even after being repatriated.

“We collect information from those who come back to the camps and the new arrivals. There are areas with security challenges and lack of social amenities,” he added.

A week ago, Amnesty International released a report indicating some refugees are being coerced to go home.