UN refugee agency urges Kenya to grant access to detained Somalis

23 November 2007The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is urging the Kenyan authorities to grant the agency access to over two dozen Somalis being detained in Nairobi after a group nearly that size were forcibly returned to war-torn Mogadishu. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is urging the Kenyan authorities to grant the agency access to over two dozen Somalis being detained in Nairobi after a group nearly that size were forcibly returned to war-torn Mogadishu.Spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis today in Geneva voiced concern about the fate of at least 26 Somalis being held at the Jomo Kenyatta Airport from among at least 49 Somalis, mainly women and children, who reportedly flew from Mogadishu to Nairobi and then on to Kampala, Uganda, but were returned to Kenya. The remaining 23 were “forcibly returned to Mogadishu on Tuesday without being given the opportunity to request asylum as provided for under international and Kenyan laws,” she said.Ms. Pagonis pointed out that Kenya’s own laws require the Government to refrain from forcibly returning people to a place where their lives are in danger – and grant the right to present their claim for asylum. UNHCR had repeatedly requested access to the initial group of 49 but still has not received it. All of the Somalis of the group expressed fear of persecution were they to be returned to Somalia, according to reliable sources, the agency said. “We are now extremely concerned that the remaining group of 26 Somali nationals at the airport will be returned to the Mogadishu area, where continuing unrest and fighting would put them at extreme risk,” Ms. Pagonis said. “We are urging the Government of Kenya to grant UNHCR teams access to the Somalis at the airport in order to determine their international protection needs and to halt their possible forced return to Mogadishu.” read more