Landmark pledging conference to support Somali refugees going home starts

Somalia's Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, Kenya's Minister of Interior and Coordination of National Government H.E. (Rtd) Maj. General Joseph Ole Nkaissery, Europe's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and UN High Commissioner António Guterres will open a pledging conference this morning to mobilize more international support for creation of conditions for voluntary return and sustainable reintegration in Somalia as well as the security and resilience of refugees and host communities in Kenya.

Delegates from more than over 40 countries and organizations will discuss how to concretely prepare for voluntary returns of Somali refugees from the region and enhance absorption capacity in areas of return in Somalia by strengthening humanitarian and development actions. The main focus will be on improving security and law enforcement, rehabilitation of infrastructure and the environment, expansion of access to education, water and sanitation services, health care provision, shelter, agriculture and the creation of job opportunities. The initial plan of action, which is aligned with the Somalia New Deal Compact framework, requires a total of US$500 million and will run for two years until the end of 2017.

"We need to invest in Somalia so that some of the refugees who are currently stranded in refugee camps can go home and participate in rebuilding their country", Guterres said. "That would benefit not only Somalia and the Somali refugees, but the entire region".

UNHCR and partners have helped some 5,300 refugees to voluntarily return to Somalia since December 2014; while a significant number have returned spontaneously. Over 2 million Somalis remain displaced in the region, including some 1.1 million in their own country and 967,000 as refugees in the neighbouring countries. The majority (420,000) are living in Kenya, mostly in the five refugee camps in Dadaab in the north-east of the country. Nearly 250,000 Somali refugees are living in Ethiopia and a similar number in Yemen.

For more information, photos and video (and B-roll) please see our media page: http://www.unhcr.org/somalia-ministerial/

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Brussels, Karin de Gruijl on mobile +41 79 255 9213
  • In Nairobi, Duke Mwancha on mobile +254 722 207 863
  • In Geneva, Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • For the European Commission in Brussels Stacey Vickers on mobile +32 2 29 94153