The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has donated 156 camels worth Sh10 million to 78 support staff in Alinjugur camp in Fafi constituency, Garissa county following the closure of the camp last year.
According to area MP Abdikarim Osman, the camels offer was a form of severance package to the workers.
Speaking during the handing over ceremony in Alinjugur Tuesday, Osman welcomed the gesture by the UN humanitarian organization saying ‘it will go a long way in helping the families of the affected staff pick up their lives after losing their jobs’.
The MP said that the affected staff members from the local community were pastoralists and the camels that are highly valued will help them settle as they also explore other forms of livelihoods.
“These members of staff worked as cleaners, guards and grounds men were not earning very much so may not have saved much. The donation will come in handy. I want to thank UNHCR whom I personally persuaded to consider the gesture for accepting my proposal,” he said.
The legislator urged the beneficiaries not to sell off the animals but instead take care of them so that they can provide milk for sale and consumption to their families.
He urged the UN body to extend the same gesture to other camps that have been closed in the vast Dadaab refugee camp.
Abdi Hassan, one of the beneficiaries thanked the UNHCR for the donation saying it will go a long way in boosting their families’ sources of livelihood.
“We want to thank UNHCR and the area MP for his role in pushing for these donations. When we unexpectedly lost our jobs, we thought our life has just come to an end but thank God we have a source of income in the form of camels,” Hassan said.
On November 10th 2013, the Governments of Kenya and Somalia, and UNHCR signed a Tripartite Agreement for the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees.
Subsequently, UNHCR and partners drafted an operations plan for a pilot project to support the return process under the auspices of the Tripartite Commission, established under the Tripartite Agreement.
Since December 2014, Somali refugees have voluntarily been returning to their home country leading to the closure of several camps among them Kambioos refugee camp that was closed on 31st March 2017 and Ifo 2 refugee camp was closed on 31st May 2018.
This has seen operations in the 3 main camps of Hagadera, Dagahaley and Ifo scaled down with several humanitarian agencies closing their offices.
By Jacob Songok