Africa

East African bloc: Members to allow Somali refugees to work

  • Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, centre listens to speeches during  the special summit, at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit brings together members of states  from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and other stakeholders to marshal a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for Somali refugees, whilst promoting sustainable reintegration of returnees in Somalia. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)

    Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, centre listens to speeches during the special summit, at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit brings together members of states from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and other stakeholders to marshal a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for Somali refugees, whilst promoting sustainable reintegration of returnees in Somalia. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)  (The Associated Press)

  • Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, right, and Ethiopia's Prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the Chairman of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government, left, listen to speeches during  the special summit, at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit brings together members of states  from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and other stakeholders. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)

    Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, right, and Ethiopia's Prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn and the Chairman of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government, left, listen to speeches during the special summit, at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit brings together members of states from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and other stakeholders. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)  (The Associated Press)

  • Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, left, and Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, listen to speeches during the special summit, at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit brings together members of states  from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and other stakeholders to marshal a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for Somali refugees, whilst promoting sustainable reintegration of returnees in Somalia. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)

    Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, left, and Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan, listen to speeches during the special summit, at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The summit brings together members of states from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and other stakeholders to marshal a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for Somali refugees, whilst promoting sustainable reintegration of returnees in Somalia. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)  (The Associated Press)

East Africa's regional bloc says it gradually will allow the hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees sheltering in its countries to work and will include them in planning efforts.

It's a step forward for nations like Kenya, where refugees are not allowed to work.

Members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development also committed Saturday to finding alternative means of settling refugees. They did not say when any changes would take effect.

The refugee summit comes weeks after a court blocked Kenya's plan to close the world's largest refugee camp in May. Dadaab shelters more than 200,000 Somalis.

East Africa also faces the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis in Uganda, where hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have fled in recent months.

The bloc also includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan.