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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

SOMALIA: UNHCR resumes repatriation to Puntland

NAIROBI, 22 July 2003 (IRIN) - A suspended operation to repatriate Somali refugees from Kenya to the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, resumed at the weekend, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said.

In a statement, it said the repatriation restarted on 19 July after a two-month suspension caused by lack of funds for the flights to Somalia.

UNHCR spokesman Emmanuel Nyabera told IRIN that a total of 93 refugees were flown from Dadaab refugee camp, in northeastern Kenya, to Puntland on Saturday. About 534 refugees have already returned since the operation began in mid-May.

Some 2,880 refugees have signed up for the voluntary return to Somalia and the agency is encouraging more to follow suit.

The agency has been encouraging refugees to visit Puntland so that they can "make informed decisions" on whether to return.

"Much as we admire the communication system that exists among the Somali people from inside Somalia to every corner of the world, there is always a difference between receiving oral information and seeing it with your own eyes," said Simone Wolken, UNHCR's representative for Somalia.

Themes: (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs



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