The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has resolved to facilitate the voluntary return of Somali refugees.
They said this will be done in a safe and dignified manner so as to address the root causes of their displacement.
In a Communiqué issued at the end of an IGAD special summit in Nairobi, the IGAD leaders also agreed to work towards Somalia's security and stability.
The meeting on durable solutions for Somali refugees was hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his capacity as the regional body’s rapporteur.
The leaders said they will also strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and reinforcing Somali security forces' capacity.
They said this will go a long way to boosting security and stability in the Horn of Africa nation.
The IGAD regional leaders also agreed to bolster the protection of refugees and respond effectively to the drought situation in the region.
The leaders called on IGAD member states to align domestic laws and policies, including civil documentation, in line with refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
This is to enable refugees to access gainful employment and self-reliance. An IGAD Multi-Donor Trust Fund was also proposed.
It will be designed to facilitate the rolling out of durable solutions including a safe, sustainable and voluntary return of refugees.
Presidents Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Somalia), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), and Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) attended.
Sudan Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdulrahman was also present at the summit chaired by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn - IGAD chairman.
Earlier, President Kenyatta separately held talks with Prime Minister Desalegn, Presidents Museveni, Mohamed and Kiir.
AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat was also present at the talks held on the sidelines of the special summit.
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