The following article is taken from the Catholic Sentinel. Please pray for Somalia and the afflicted people of this country. RCMS
NAIROBI, Kenya --
While many Somali refugees wish to return home, just a small number have
been able to do so because of ongoing violence in parts of their
homeland, said Bishop Giorgio Bertin of Djibouti, apostolic
administrator of Somalia's only Catholic diocese, Mogadishu.
media reports that refugees are returning home, Bishop Bertin wrote in
an email to Catholic News Service Jan. 28 that fears of violence and
insecurity in southern Somalia are preventing people from making the
long trek to their homeland.
"It is true there is an initial
return of Somali refugees from Kenya to Somalia. But it is a very small
number," Bishop Bertin told CNS.
"This is due to the fact that
many of the Somali refugees in Kenya are from southern Somalia, which is
still quite unsafe because most of the rural areas are out of the
control of the government forces and of AMISOM," the African Union
Mission in Somalia, he explained.
Kenya hosts one of the largest Somali refugee camps in the region.
authorities have threatened to send some Somali refugees out of the
country because they have been linked to al-Shabaab militants that
control sections of Somalia. However, the Africa Union, the United
Nations and the international community have resisted this move, saying
it's against the U.N. convention governing refugees to forcefully return
people to their homelands in the face of violence and insecurity.
Bertin told the CNS that the Catholic Church with some of its partners
has undertaken programs aimed at assisting the "homecoming" of refugees.
have just started (with our local partner) ... a small project in Lower
Juba for the resettlement of refugees/returnees from Kenya: It is an
agricultural project that aims at helping the returnees to restart an
agricultural activity," he wrote.
A shake-up in the government in
December in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, also has been a setback,
delaying efforts by the Catholic Church to renew its presence in the
country, the bishop said.
"For the moment, we will continue our
presence through our humanitarian support to local partners," Bishop
Bertin said. "We have to see if the new government is capable of
'governing,' of giving services, of respecting human rights, including
the religious rights, of honestly being at the service of the people of
Somalia in rebuilding confidence and reconciliation. The way is still
long! But we must persevere with our patience and commitment," he said.