|Nairobi — Somalia's State Minister for Interior and Federalism Affairs Mohamud Moalim Yahye has told IPS that the hasty repatriation and mass deportation of its citizens by Kenya could compromise recent, critical security improvements made by regional governments against the Islamic extremist group, Al-Shabaab.
"The unplanned and uncoordinated deportation of people, especially the youth, will create chaos and anarchy as there are no resources to support and create jobs for them," Yahye told IPS by phone from Mogadishu, Somalia's capital.
The Somali government has asked that Kenya suspend the current mass deportation of its citizens, which began early April, until the Tripartite agreement for repatriation of Somali refugees is implemented.
The agreement, which was signed last year by the two governments and the United Nations Refugees Agency, aims to send refugees back to Somalia over the next three years. However, the agreement only outlines the voluntary and organised repatriation of refugees to Somalia.
Yahye said that Somalia, where the unemployment rate for youth aged 14 to 29 is one of the highest in the world at 67 percent, did not have the capacity to receive and integrate large numbers of returning refugees and deportees.
As a result, security experts, government officials and politicians in Mogadishu and Kenya's capital, Nairobi, have raised concerns that deportees and returnees could be vulnerable to recruitment by Al-Shabaab, which desperately needs new blood.
"These young men, if they join the militants, will be an asset that could help the group wreak havoc not only Somalia and Kenya, but the greater region of East Africa," Zakariye Yusuf, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, told IPS.
Kenya is home to more than one million Somali refugees, half of whom are unregistered migrants, according to Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Kenya's Usalama Watch -- which resulted in over 4,000 people, all most of all of them Somali refugees and migrants, being taken into custody -- has resulted in the repatriation of about 500 people to Somalia.
Hundreds are awaiting deportation, according to the Somali Embassy in Kenya. Airline and travel agencies officials say a further 7,000 people -- half of them youth -- fled Nairobi to Mogadishu after the operation was launched.