Kenya’s decision to repatriate Somali refugees back to their country is not reversible, President Kenyatta has said.
The President said the process of repatriation has already began and called on the global community to partner with Kenya to ensure its success.
“The train has already left the station. It’s now up to those who are interested at seeing the success of the journey to come on board,” said the President.
The Head of State was speaking during talks with the UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, who paid him a courtesy call at State House, Nairobi.
He said Kenya’s action should not be misinterpreted as a move to abandon its international obligations, adding that the country has hosted refugees from neighbouring nations for decades.
He emphasized that Kenya viewed the repatriation of the refugees as one way of stabilizing Somalia.
The President assured the international community that Kenya will handle the repatriation process in accordance to the international standards and in the most humane way.
He called on all UN member states to support the repatriation of Somali refugees back to their country.
The President said as a result of the large population of refugees, natural resources such as water and pasture were becoming scarce in the areas they inhabited, accelerating the threat of conflicts in the region.
He added that the refugee issue is a shared responsibility and hence the international community had a duty to support Kenya in ensuring that Somali refugee are repatriated in the best way possible.
“We have made a non-permanent situation to look as permanent,” the President told the UN deputy secretary.
The President said if the challenge of Somali refugees is not dealt with now, it could pose a major conflict in the future.
“We want Somalia helped to take back its citizens and be able to continue with their lives back home,” said the President.
The UN Deputy Secretary-General commended President Kenyatta and the Government for its effort in stabilizing the region and especially Somalia and South Sudan.
He said he will communicate the President’s and Kenya’s position on repatriation to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee Filippo Grand once he gets back to New York.
Mr Eliasson expressed gratitude to the President and the people of Kenya for their hospitality which has helped citizens of neighbouring countries in times of great need.
The UN Deputy Secretary General said, the UN shares Kenya’s concerns and it will look for ways and means of partnering on the issue of refugee.
On environment, President Kenyatta said Kenya is committed to conservation efforts because Africa is more affected by global warming even though it is the least contributor.
The President said Africa is a big stakeholder on environmental conservation and will continue taking lead in prioritizing programes aimed at dealing with climate change.
“We are doing this not for others but for ourselves,” said the President.
The President said Kenya is planning to increase the acreage of land on which United Nations offices in Nairobi are located to ensure they take on their mandate of international environmental diplomacy.
“We want to work with you to make Nairobi a global centre for dealing with environmental issues,” said the President.
He said Kenya has consulted with other countries on how to partner so as to make Nairobi a global headquarters of environmental issues.
“Kenya will be there and will be in the forefront championing climate change issues by getting everybody on board to be part of the solution, “said the President.
Mr. Eliasson urged President Kenyatta to take the lead in ensuring that Africa takes a keen interest in conserving the environment to stem climate change challenges arising from the degradation of the same.
Also present were Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohammed and other senior government officials