Dadaab refugees go home to SomaliaPhoto | Maryan Ali and her children board a bus in Dadaab to go home/Axmed-Nuur/Ergo
(ERGO) – As Mohamed Adan Barkhadle prepared to board a bus from Dadaab on the first stage of his journey to Kismayo, he told Radio Ergo he hoped he would be able to make a good life for his family of eight back in southern Somalia.
“I don’t have wealth or property there, but I am delighted that I am leaving the refugee life and that I going back to my home country,” he said.
Mohamed was among 269 refugees from 51 families setting off for home this week from Dadaab’s Ifo II camp. They were the latest families to take up UNHCR’s offer of transport and a repatriation package of food and cash.
They were heading for destinations in Baidoa and Dinsor districts of Bay, and Kismayo in Lower Juba. All had come to the refugee camps during the drought and famine of 2011.
Mohamed said he had felt safe in the refugee camps for five years until living conditions became impossible due to the recent reduction of food rations by the aid agencies from November last year. Food distributions were cut from twice to once a month because of shortfalls in funding. He had been unable to support his family on the little they received as he had no source of supplementary income.
Also on his way home was Ali Abshir, who was educated and married in the refugee camps. He told Radio Ergo he was going back to his native Dinsor.
“We were given an amount of $400 as expenses for our journey and a similar amount has been promised us when we are back in Somalia,” he said. Ali was travelling with his wife and their two children, who were born in Dadaab.
Maryan Ali was getting on the bus heading for her home in Baidoa. She told Radio Ergo that her five children all had access to free education in Ifo II, where they have lived for five years. She was worried about whether her children would be able to continue their studies in Baidoa as the private schools there charge monthly fees.
The head of UNHCR’s repatriation initiative, Adan Rashid Abdi, told Radio Ergo, the latest busloads brought the number of returnees in January to 1,637. A further 16,000 people had been registered as willing to go back to Somalia.
UNHCR has repatriated 7,734 refugees to Somalia since the end of December 2014 when the exercise started following implementation of a tripartite agreement between Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR in late 2013.