(Role Agency UNHCR and other donor organisations and

(Role of UNHCR in
Return of Refugees)

The
decision to close the refugee camps in Kenya and send back Somali refugees to
Somalia within a specified time line is solely a Government of Kenya policy
decision. However, the execution of the return policy of the refugees involves
the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR and other donor organisations and countries that
have been involved in one way or the other in supporting the refugees in the
camps in Kenya for decades.

 

UNHCR,
as a party to the Tripartite Agreement signed in 2013 together with the
Government of Kenya and the Federal Republic of Somalia, is responsible for the
whole process of voluntary repatriation. UNHCR is supposed to supervise,
coordinate and monitor the whole process keenly with a view to ensuring that
protection prerequisites and standards are adhered to the later. As such, it is
UNHCR”s duty to “verify and confirm the voluntary nature of all the
repatriation decisions made by the refugees and to ensure safe and dignified
repatriations in line with the demands of both national and international
refugee statutes (Tripartite Agreement, 2013). The standards for repatriation
by UNHCR are clearly defined in their Repatriation handbook. It states as a
general rule, that the UN Refugee Agency must be convinced and satisfied that
the pull factors in the country of origin take precedence in the refugee’s
decision to return, over the push factors in the host country, (UNHCR, 1996). UNHCR
(1996) further states that, for the returns to be considered voluntary they
must be based on objective and accurate information provided to refugees
through thorough counselling sessions on the conditions in the respective areas
of return.

 

Once
accurate and up-to-date information on the areas of return is shared with the
refugees, and the refugees acknowledge the understanding of it, adult refugees
are supposed to confirm and admit that indeed information was given and that
the repatriation decision is made freely, without any coercion, undue influence
or duress by signing the Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF),. UNHCR on its part
will attest to the informed choice to repatriation of the refugees by also
signing the Voluntary Repatriation Form (Amnesty International, 2016).