The 2017 London Somalia Conference: ‘Supporting Refugees and Their Host Communities in the Horn and East Africa’

Seven-year-old Rahma (orange headscarf) and eight-year-old Nadiro from Somalia are best friends. They both study in class one of Hormud Primary School in Ifo camp of Dadaab. Rahma wants to become a teacher while Nadiro dreams to become a doctor. Among the 2,044 students in Hormud Primary School, 744 are girls. Hormud Primary School is located in Ifo camp of Dadaab where 2,044 refugee students currently studying. 744 of the student are girls. In 2015, all 56 students who have participated in Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE) exam, made it to the secondary schools. ; The five camps of Dadaab have a total of 35 pre-school centers, 35 primary schools, seven secondary schools, four vocational learning centers known as Youth Education Packs, three adult literacy centers and three libraries. UNHCR and its education partner agencies working together supporting the schools and other education centers to make sure that children and youth in the camps have access to learning.

An international conference on Somalia was held in London on 10 May 2017. The conference co-chaired by British Prime Minister, Theresa May and the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres was also attended by head of states and governments from East Africa nations, key partners and other eminent officials from international organizations. The first London conference on Somalia was held in May 2012.

As the 2017 conference progressed a number of side events and round tables focusing on particular thematic areas were concluded. At a roundtable on ‘Supporting Refugees and Their Host Communities in the Horn and East Africa,” the United Kingdom in partnership with the EU, UNHCR and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) brought together civil societies, international donors and financial institutions and representatives from countries applying the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants to discuss among other issues, protection and durable solutions for refugees and support to host communities.

Currently, there are 65 million forcibly displaced persons in the world, including over 21 million refugees, 3 million asylum seekers and over 40 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Kenya is host to 486,150 refugees and asylum-seekers, 306,321 (63%) of whom are from Somalia.

The Roundtable held in the margins of the Conference was co-chaired by UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner-Operations, Mr. George Okoth-Obbo and Ms. Priti Sushil Patel, the British Secretary of State for International Development.

The roundtable  took stock of the refugee situation in the region and the progress made in delivering the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, especially its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).

Additionally, the roundtable gave a boosting platform to other major multilateral initiatives such as the IGAD Nairobi Declaration on Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees and the upcoming June Solidarity Summit in Uganda.

The solidarity summit will, among others, promote initiatives to help refugees become self-sufficient and contribute to their host communities.

The IGAD Nairobi Declaration was repeatedly referenced by participants who underlined the need for expeditious implementation of its Action Plan. Both host and donor countries also welcomed the momentum that was building in strengthening humanitarian and development collaboration that will enable refugee’s economic participation and self-reliance while at the same time creating conducive conditions for voluntary and sustainable repatriation.

The participants in the round table discussions also considered how to drive forward durable solutions for refugees in the region while addressing on-going protection, assistance and other response needs. It was agreed that, this can be done by demonstrating solidarity and responsibility-sharing, including provision of resettlement opportunities for refugees in need, while keeping in sight that most refugees will eventually be able to return voluntarily, in conditions of safety and dignity, to their homes.

Finally, UNHCR was encouraged to continue, as called upon in the New York Declaration, to develop, in consultation with States and relevant partners, modalities for the application of the CRRF to a range of specific refugee situations in both the pilot and other countries. In this respect, participants look forward to the High Commissioner’s proposals for a Global Compact for Refugees as requested by the New York Declaration.

Read the summary here.