Communique of Ministerial Meeting on the Somali Refugee Situation commits to fresh impetus for durable solutions for Somali refugees

Communique of Ministerial Meeting on the Somali Refugee Situation commits to fresh impetus for durable solutions for Somali refugees

Statement by the Governments of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Yemen; the African Union; the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development; the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia; the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees upon conclusion of Ministerial Meeting of the High Commissioner's Global Initiative on Somali Refugees in Addis Ababa on 20 August 2014

We, as key stakeholders, express appreciation to the High Commissioner for having launched the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees (GISR) to catalyse fresh impetus for durable solutions for Somali refugees.

Through the 'Addis Ababa Commitment towards Somali Refugees', we reiterate our gratitude to the Governments and the people of the key asylum countries for their solidarity and hospitality extended to Somali refugees for decades. We resolutely reaffirm our commitment to maintain asylum and international protection for Somali refugees and to intensify the search for durable solutions for them.

Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Yemen together today host nearly one million Somali refugees. Another one million Somalis remain displaced internally within Somalia itself. In their more than two decades of exile, Somali refugees have received protection, been assisted and some even been able to rebuild their lives. Yet, thousands have now for over two generations not had a future. Over time, their plight is even being forgotten as new situations elsewhere in Africa and globally have commanded greater attention. To keep forgetting their predicament is not forgivable. We must remain committed and engaged both within the region and internationally.

Emerging signs of stability in Somalia are heartening. The establishment of a government in Mogadishu, expedited state formation, progress towards holding elections in 2016 and the efforts of the Somali National Army with AMISOM to liberate areas within Somalia signify crucial progress. However, we remain gravely concerned about the security breaches, particularly terrorist attacks by al-Shabaab and other militia, which undermine the positive steps, perpetuate a fragile security situation, limit humanitarian assistance to displaced Somalis, risk the displacement of more Somalis and frustrate opportunities for the safe and sustainable return to their homes of Somali refugees and internally displaced persons many of whom are eager to do so.

The Somali Federal Government renews its determination to multiply all efforts for peace and political, social and economic stability and progress of Somalia and its people. As Somalia's neighbours and partners, we renew our commitment to stand by and support Somalia and its long-suffering people. We call upon the international community at large to meaningfully support the capacity of the Somali Government to create peace, security, law and order, social and economic progress and sustainability in Somalia and address humanitarian imperatives including assuring food security for Somalia and basic services and amenities. These are also the conditions which will mitigate against new or additional displacement and make voluntary, safe and sustainable repatriation in significant numbers possible.

For Somalis who continue to need safety in exile, more comprehensive support should be extended to the asylum countries and host communities to strengthen asylum and international protection. All feasible and creative solutions should be explored and supported for refugees to realize themselves as full and self-reliant members of society who can meet their basic human and community needs. In particular, we call for further financial support and all other forms of increased solidarity and responsibility-sharing to meet basic human and social needs, link humanitarian assistance to development programmes and address the impacts of hosting refugees.

More opportunities for the resettlement of Somali refugees should be provided. Somali refugees who are spontaneously returning to their country should be supported to do so in all feasible ways so that they are not forced back into exile. The participation of the refugees themselves and of the Somali diaspora and the private sector at large should be increased.

For all these purposes, we hereby endorse a renewed engagement for Somali refugees which binds us to act in solidarity to address the imperatives of this pressing problem. At the heart of these commitments are guiding principles which emphasize the importance of the Somali Federal Government's commitment in actions concerning Somali refugees, the imperative of continued support to host communities, the need to increase refugee participation and the Somali diaspora at large in future actions and to create differentiated solutions for a diverse refugee population, the benefits of considering new alternatives for long-staying refugees, and the importance of engaging new actors in the search for solutions.

We undertake to work with national, regional and international partners in a coordinated manner to give effect to the renewed commitments and outcomes of relevant sub-regional and regional meetings. We call upon the international community, through the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees, to commit to the renewed engagement and work together for a more meaningful life for Somali refugees.

Addis Ababa, Wednesday 20 August 2014