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Remarks at the roundtable on "Delivering on the Commitments of the Nairobi Declaration"

Speeches and statements

Remarks at the roundtable on "Delivering on the Commitments of the Nairobi Declaration"

29 September 2017
Brussels, Belgium

Mr. Director General,

Honorable Foreign Ministers from the IGAD Region,

Mr. Executive Secretary,

Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the High Commissioner, who unfortunately could not be here, let me thank High Representative/Vice President Ms. Frederica Mogherini for convening this meeting of IGAD Foreign Ministers and providing us opportunity to discuss protection and solutions for Somali refugees and the progress that has been made so far in applying the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).

Mr. Director General, the countries represented in this meeting, along with Yemen, host some 847,350 Somali refugees [including 288,489 in Kenya, 256,283 in Yemen, 252,036 in Ethiopia, 34,693 in Uganda, 13,306 in Djibouti and 2,273 in Eritrea]. This constitutes globally one of the largest refugee situations today and is also among the most protracted. Each year, new outflows occur. Thus, simultaneously, we have a compelling need for asylum and protection, relief assistance, yet also the imperative for solutions. These catalogues – emergencies, high numbers, long-term exile and regional impact – are among the very situations for which the NY Declaration and CCRF were adopted.

UNHCR was thus very pleased that the IGAD Member States together with Yemen came together to agree the IGAD Nairobi Declaration and Action Plan, the first regional application and operationalisation of the CRRF. Shortly, we will hear from the Executive Secretary and from the Foreign Ministers the progress that has been made at both the regional / IGAD level and in the countries themselves. Amongst others, National Action Plans, a Regional Results Framework and Road Map have been developed for the implementation of the Action Plan, all of which we will also hear more about. Also, across all the countries, Somali refugees continue to enjoy asylum, safety, security, even to take steps to fulfil their lives and, yes, solutions as well. Since 2014, by end of August 2017, 105,119 in all have voluntarily returned to Somalia [72,104 from Kenya, 32,622 from Yemen and 393 from other countries of asylum]. In Somalia, itself, the National Development Plan specifically addresses forced displacement and the Government, supported by the United Nations, is leading the Durable Solutions Initiative with which the CRRF aligns. In Djibouti, the new national refugee law provides access to education, livelihoods, legal support and access to the national justice system for refugees. In Ethiopia, the revised Vital Events Registration Agency (VERA) Proclamation stipulates that all refugee children born in Ethiopia should be provided civil documentation. Uganda, the largest refugee hosting country in Africa, is using the CRRF approach to enable refugees to enjoy a range of expanded rights.

Honorable Foreign Ministers, I am extremely grateful to IGAD and, through you, your Governments and people, for this dependable humanitarian duty you are discharging to Somali refugees. Mr. Director General, Mr. Executive Secretary, you know yourselves how, together, we have supported this initiative, for which, in our case, the High Commissioner appointed Ambassador Mohammed Abdi Affey as his Special Envoy, and permit me to acknowledge his personal and tremendous engagement and efforts which have played a key role in bringing us to this point.  Particularly, I would like to thank you, Mr. Director General, and through you, the European Union, for the steadfast and progressive interest and support to the process and, Mr. Executive Secretary, for the Secretariat’s leadership which remains pivotal.

We know, of course, and we will hear even more shortly, that huge challenges remain. Allow me in concluding these remarks to reiterate on behalf of UNHCR that:

Firstly, our collaboration with and support to all the Governments in providing asylum, protection, assistance and, particularly, searching for solutions, can be fully counted on for both the new influxes and existing refugees from Somalia.

Secondly, UNHCR will continue to catalyze the international community’s solidarity and responsibility-sharing, particularly for additional funding streams, providing resettlement opportunities for refugees in need and complementary pathways for third country admissions.

Thirdly, in this context, UNHCR attaches particular priority to the inclusion of refugees in national development plans, enabling development assistance and investment in refugee hosting areas and turning refugees from being passive recipients of humanitarian assistance to active agents of economic development. UNHCR will thus continue to support IGAD Member States in the development and implementation of National Plans of Action, central to which are these objectives.

Fourthly, for this to happen, the building of strong partnerships is of course crucial. The commitment by the World Bank to avail US$ 2 billion under its IDA 18 refugee sub-window is an excellent demonstration of the kind of support that is required. UNDP has also joined, and I have no doubt, will be providing strong support to the process as well.   We will work even harder to foster these partnerships and engagements.

Mr. Director General, Honorable Foreign Ministers, Mr. Executive Secretary, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IGAD Process forms an important component of the development of the Global Compact for Refugees which the High Commissioner will propose to the United Nations General Assembly in his 2018 Report. I would like to echo UNHCR’s gratitude that the IGAD Member States and Yemen have taken such a decisive step in initiating and developing the IGAD regional comprehensive refugee response. Together with the IGAD Secretariat and the EU Commission, we are honoured to have the privilege of supporting this initiative. I assure you once again of our steadfast partnership and accompaniment, all for the interest of thousands of refugees some now in the third generation of exile, along with their local hosts that have extended to them a home and solidarity so selflessly over now nearly three decades.

Thank you.