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State stability and the crisis of refugees in Kenya: repatriation and resettlement of the Somali refugees in Dadaab Camp.

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The repatriation of refugees is a complex phenomenon that requires extensive consultation especially among refugees and potential returnees. Even though several repatriations have failed as returnees flee again, the refugee actors have not significantly changed their approach to refugee repatriations so as to curb and reduce such failed repatriations. In this dissertation, I examine the Tripartite Agreement signed between the governments of Kenya, Somalia and the UNHCR on 10th November 2013.This agreement is to guide the repatriation of approximately half a million Somali refugees from the Dadaab refugee camp in Northeastern Kenya. I argue that organized repatriations overlook refugee voices as experts and elites influence politics and policy surrounding repatriations. With refugees at the periphery of this decision-making, refugee actors make decisions about them that lack their input and, subsequently, the legitimacy of the decisions made on behalf of refugees. While tripartite parties agree, theoretically, on the need to promote voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from Dadaab, in practice, they differ on how this should be carried out without rendering repatriation involuntary. I maintain that the refugee regime, the 1951UN Convention, needs to be changed as it is outdated, narrow in scope and does not address the new realities of the refugee problem. For instance, it does not recognize socio-economic causes of refugees. The study finds that the majority of Somali refugees in Dadaab neither know of the existence of a TA supporting their voluntary return, nor its contents. In this regard, I argue that refugees should be actively involved in decision making regarding repatriation and must not be relegated to the periphery. To address the refugee problem in Africa, I argue that focus should shift from the plight of refugees to addressing the reasons for the flight. As argued in this dissertation, only about 25% of Somali refugees in Dadaab have accepted repatriation since 2014 with many citing insecurity, lack of livelihood opportunities and social services as some of the reasons they have not repatriated. Cases of involuntary returns like that of Afghan, Rwandese and Rohingya refugees are cited as warning against unsustainable induced returns. As a deterrent measure, I contend that efforts by the international community should be focused on mitigating potentially explosive conflicts without necessarily interfering with sovereignty of concerned states. I argue that sustained peace and security that guarantee involuntary return is only possible by solving the reasons for the flight. The primary sources of the study included interviews, focus group discussions and personal observation. It was then categorized into various themes to address the set objectives.


Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2019.