High Commissioner’s Global Initiative on Somali Refugees
The Somali refugee situation, now in its third decade, is among the most protracted in the world. More than 1 million Somalis are displaced in the near region, and a further 1 million within Somalia. More than 20 years after the first Somalis fled civil war, third-generation refugees are now being born in camps outside their homeland.
Since 2012, Somalia has experienced the most decisive, if fragile, improvement in its political and security situation in recent years. In this context, the High Commissioner's Global Initiative on Somali Refugees (GISR) is seeking ways to create dialogue and generate ideas for sustainable solutions for Somali refugees.
A high-level panel on Somali refugees was convened in November 2013 in Geneva, bringing together 24 experts, including members of the Somali diaspora, civil society leaders from the region, academics, businessmen, former diplomats and senior UN officials. The meeting identified priority areas to be addressed in the search for solutions, and generated a set of guiding principles to shape action going forward.
In August 2014, the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees convened a meeting in Addis Ababa between UNHCR and ministers from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Yemen as well as representatives of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. In what High Commissioner António Guterres described as an "historic moment," the participants adopted the Addis Ababa Commitment towards finding solutions for Somali refugees.
The meeting agreed to consider a move from the traditional care and maintenance approach to one which emphasized refugee self-reliance, and to preserve asylum space as long as conditions in Somalia were not conducive to large-scale return. The meeting also called on the international community to play their part in sharing the responsibility, including through supporting host nations and Somalia and providing expanded resettlement opportunities for Somali refugees.
In consultation with affected states and other stakeholders, the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees will generate a regional solutions plan for Somali refugees to be finalized at a global event in 2015.