The UK has announced that it will provide an additional £20 million (approx Ksh 2.7b) to accelerate the voluntary return of refugees to Somalia from Kenya. This new support will help ensure that refugees who want to return home have the support and livelihoods in place to ensure their safe, long-term resettlement in Somalia. Of the £20 million, £4million (approx Ksh 529m) will be spent in Kenya to identify and register Somali refugees who want to return, and provide safe routes of transport from Kenya. The remainder of the funds will go into providing shelter, hygiene kits and the essentials for people to return and resume a normal life in Somalia.
The UK is already working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support voluntary returns and has helped over 12,000 people return to Somalia in 2016, giving people the choice about where they build their livelihoods.
In her first address to the UN General Assembly in New York, UK Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged the challenges of refugees and host countries and reiterated the UK’s commitment to global humanitarian assistance. She said:
Across the world today, there are 65 million people who have been forcibly displaced. That it is equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom. It is an unprecedented figure, one that has almost doubled in a decade. And yet UN appeals are underfunded; host countries are not getting enough support; and refugees are not getting the aid, education and economic opportunities they need. We must do more. And as the second largest bi-lateral provider of assistance, the UK remains fully committed to playing a leading role.
Speaking after the announcement, British High Commissioner to Kenya, Nic Hailey said:
The UK has long supported Kenya as it provides refuge to those fleeing conflict and hunger elsewhere in East Africa, as the second largest donor to refugee assistance here. This new funding will go directly to helping Somali refugees return home from Dadaab, in a way which is safe, voluntary, dignified, and allows them to build a better future for themselves and their families.
The increased support to refugees in Kenya builds on the UK’s leading role as the second largest donor to refugee operations in Kenya since 2012, providing £72 million (approx Ksh 9.6b) to support the protection and assistance needs of the refugee population in Kenya.