The Ugandan government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday started the voluntary repatriation of Kenyan refugees who fled into the country in the wake of the 2007/2008 post election violence back home. UNHCR
Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s state minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees told Xinhua by telephone that the repatriation of at least 1,500 refugees who have been at Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in the mid-western district of Kiryandongo follows the March 30 tripartite agreement reached between Uganda, Kenya and UNHCR.
“It took many years for us to persuade these people to go back to their home because of the violence and trauma they experienced. We are happy they are voluntarily returning back home with dignity, ” said Ecweru.
“These people didn’t want to go back to Kenya because it was not bad but they were traumatized. We had to do the go-see and come-tell campaigns for them to be assured home was now safe,” he added.
The minister said that the Kenyan government is giving the returning refugees the resettlement package and land to settle.
Charlie Yaxley, UNCHR external relations officer told Xinhua by telephone that the first convoy of 720 refugees was set to depart Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement on Tuesday and the second one on Sunday.
“There have been discussions between the government of Uganda, Kenya and UNHCR on how to create a situation for this people to go back to Kenya. We are happy they have signed for it out of their will. They agreed it’s time to go back home,” said Yaxley.
“The registration is still ongoing for the second batch. The second convoy will leave Kiryandongo on Sunday.”
There are reports that some of the refugees are unwilling and unprepared to return back to their country.
David Kazungu, the commissioner for refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister last week said that there was no need for the Kenyan refugees to continue staying in the East African country because the conditions that forced them out no longer exist.
“Their reason for fleeing was the 2007 election violence, which is no more. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenyan government to guide their return,” said Kazungu.
The refugees fled Kenya following the disputed 2007 presidential elections between the supporters of the then incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader, Raila Amolo Odinga, leading into a political, economic and humanitarian crisis.
The violence pitted mainly the Kalenjin and the Luo, who supported Odinga against president Kibaki’s Kikuyu community that left more than 1,000 people dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee into neighboring countries. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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