Thedecision to close the refugee camps in Kenya and send back Somali refugees toSomalia within a specified time line is solely a Government of Kenya policydecision. However, the execution of the return policy of the refugees involvesthe UN Refugee Agency UNHCR and other donor organisations and countries thathave been involved in one way or the other in supporting the refugees in thecamps in Kenya for decades. UNHCR,as a party to the Tripartite Agreement signed in 2013 together with theGovernment of Kenya and the Federal Republic of Somalia, is responsible for thewhole process of voluntary repatriation. UNHCR is supposed to supervise,coordinate and monitor the whole process keenly with a view to ensuring thatprotection prerequisites and standards are adhered to the later. As such, it isUNHCR”s duty to “verify and confirm the voluntary nature of all therepatriation decisions made by the refugees and to ensure safe and dignifiedrepatriations in line with the demands of both national and internationalrefugee statutes (Tripartite Agreement, 2013).
The standards for repatriationby UNHCR are clearly defined in their Repatriation handbook. It states as ageneral rule, that the UN Refugee Agency must be convinced and satisfied thatthe pull factors in the country of origin take precedence in the refugee’sdecision to return, over the push factors in the host country, (UNHCR, 1996). UNHCR(1996) further states that, for the returns to be considered voluntary theymust be based on objective and accurate information provided to refugeesthrough thorough counselling sessions on the conditions in the respective areasof return.
Onceaccurate and up-to-date information on the areas of return is shared with therefugees, and the refugees acknowledge the understanding of it, adult refugeesare supposed to confirm and admit that indeed information was given and thatthe repatriation decision is made freely, without any coercion, undue influenceor duress by signing the Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF),. UNHCR on its partwill attest to the informed choice to repatriation of the refugees by alsosigning the Voluntary Repatriation Form (Amnesty International, 2016).