This month, UNHCR is reporting that more than 70,200 Somali refugees have been repatriated from Dadaab, and over 17,400 are registered as “willing to return” to Somalia.
An interesting note in the report was that returns to Baidoa had been “suspended until further notice.” It did not elaborate further, but a UNHCR analysis from July 2017 stated there was a “deterioration in the humanitarian situation” in the encompassing Bay region — highlighting one of the main obstacles to the repatriation process.
According to another recent UNHCR survey from last month, more than half of the 29,000-plus returnees from 2017 do not have an occupational skill that they have taken back to Somalia — raising the question of whether they have the tools they need to make their return sustainable.
Dadaab refugee camp currently has a population of 242,998, and in the last three years, there has been an average of an 11% drop in the total number of residents, according to combined data from 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Under a model in which the population of Dadaab decreases by 11% each year, the number of refugees does not come under 10,000 until 2045.
So, despite Kenya’s best efforts to speed up the repatriation process, there is still no short-term solution to the dilemma.
Other happenings of note —
EXTRADITION DISPUTE: Somalia’s Upper House deferred a debate about the legality of the controversial transfer of ONLF official Qalbi Dhagax to Ethiopia until the Lower House could consider the move. The Lower House subsequently sought to establish a committee to look into the issue after issuing a wide range of criticisms and defenses regarding his extradition. The parliamentary procedure is peculiar because the Somali judiciary by law should be the institution that determines the legality of such a move rather than the parliament. While parliamentarians’ fiery speeches garner attractive headlines, Somalia’s institutional practices may be better served by a judicial process — even though the chance of reversing the decision seems unlikely. Here’s a timeline of the saga.
DRONE STRIKES: On 13 September, the U.S. military said it carried out three “precision airstrikes” that killed six al-Shabaab militants about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of the capital, Mogadishu. The increased strikes come at a time in which al-Shabaab has appeared to escalate car bombs in Mogadishu (32 in 2017, according to Long War Journal) and carry out successful raids where it has netted vehicles, ammunition, and other supplies. This begs the question: are there any signs that the U.S. drone campaign in Somalia is actually eroding al-Shabaab’s capabilities amid serious concerns of civilian casualties?
KENYAN RUMOR GONE VIOLENT: Opposition politicians in Kenya have accused ruling party supporters of buying voter IDs from locals in opposition areas to reduce its voter count in the 17 October repeat presidential election. These rumors spread quickly on Facebook and ultimately inspired a group of youth in Kisumu to attack, rob, and threaten to rape participants of an interdenominational church meeting in a hotel where they suspected such a conspiracy was being cooked up. Police were later forced to disperse the youth. This comes at a time in which perennial violators of hate speech regulations continue to flout the law and Kenyans believe “fake news” is being consumed in larger quantities. So, in the long shadow of 2007-08 electoral violence provoked by hate radio campaigns, words may indeed hurt you as much as sticks and stones.
Lastly, check out footage from the 3rd annual Mogadishu Book Fair — an inspiring event going on in the capital.