High Commissioner's Global Initiative on Somali Refugees

The following events have been organized to further the aims of GISR:

  • High Level Panel, Geneva, August 2013: A group of 24 academics, returnees and members of the Somali diaspora, civil society leaders from the region, former diplomats, senior UN officials and businessmen helped formulate 14 guiding principles to shape action towards solutions. A link to the report can be found on this page, or click here for an interview with panel member Ilwad Elman, speaking from personal experience about the opportunities and challenges for return to Somalia today.
  • Ministerial meeting, Addis Ababa, August 2014: UNHCR brought together ministers from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Yemen, along with representatives of UNSOM, African Union, and IGAD, to agree a regional approach to solutions. Participants unanimously adopted the Addis Ababa Commitment towards Somali Refugees, which seeks to preserve asylum space while conditions in Somalia prevent large-scale return, as well as supporting voluntary spontaneous return to safe areas and improving refugee self-reliance in exile. A call was made for greater support from the international community.
  • Ministerial Pledging Conference, Brussels, October 2015: This meeting aimed to engage the international community in the search for solutions for Somali refugees. It was co-hosted with the European Union and raised USD 105 million towards an Action Plan for interventions in Somalia (to create conditions for sustainable voluntary return) and Kenya (to support host communities, address security needs and improve refugee resilience). Delegates from over 50 States and organizations attended. Non-financial pledges were also made by delegates. You can find the conference web page here.
  • Diaspora roundtables 2014-2015, Canada, Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA: UNHCR has held roundtables with the global Somali diaspora to assess the interest in using their skills to meet the needs of Somali refugees in the East and Horn of Africa. Based on the overwhelmingly positive results, UNHCR will lead on designing a mechanism towards this.

In addition to the above, GISR is leading on generating dialogue towards defining a regional approach to Somali refugee education across host countries, with a view to better preparing them for solutions.

Documents, events and further reading