Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta Saturday appealed for action to fully bring back Somalia into the fold of the international community.
He said said the recent presidential elections in Somalia was the latest indication that the country was on the right track, thanks to the determination of its people, the commitment by the African Union and the support of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad).
“Indeed, the recent election of President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed (Farmajo) is the latest and clearest indication of the progressive success of our collective efforts, alongside the brave people of Somalia,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta spoke in Nairobi when he hosted a special Igad summit whose agenda was to find a lasting solution to return Somali refugees back to their homes, the first summit of its kind to address the refugee problem.
“What is clear to me, as it is to you leaders, and to all the Somali refugees, is that the time for lasting solutions is now,” said President Kenyatta, who is also the Igad rapporteur.
He made a passionate appeal that turned focus on the refugees themselves and why it was the right time for them to go back home and participate in building their nation.
“A refugee camp was never meant to be a permanent home, nor is being a refugee a promise of losing your citizenship and your country,” he said.
He detailed how more than 400,000 refugees from Somalia have been cramped into the Dadaab refugee camp for more than two decades.
President Kenyatta also called on humanitarian and development actors to operate from within Somalia as the country continued to gather pace in return to normalcy.
“Now that Somalia is stabilising we must, all, stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” said the President.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn – who is also the Igad Chairman – said the search for a lasting solution to the Somali refugee problem must be placed at the centre of peace and security efforts in the region.
He applauded the timing of the summit, saying: “This meeting could hardly be more timely to address the plight of the Somali refugees.”
Peace and security
Saying President Mohamed has a clear vision to develop Somalia and address the problem of refugees, the Prime Minister called for enhanced capacity for the Somali Government to win the war against Al-Shabaab to ensure peace and security.
He encouraged development partners and financial institutions to continue supporting the resilience of refugee hosting countries and facilitate the voluntary repatriation and resettlement of refugees.
President Mohamed outlined the strategies his government had put in place to provide a durable solution to the refugee problem, including equipping the youth with skills and training that would enable them to participate effectively in building their nation.
He urged humanitarian organisations and development partners to relocate to Somalia, saying his Government is committed to providing a conducive environment within which they can operate comfortably.
Other Igad heads of state who attended the summit included presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti. Sudan was represented by its Vice- President Hassabo Mohamed Abdulrahman.