Denmark provides much needed financial support to Somalia situation

A recent Danish emergency contribution will strengthen UNHCR’s response to 3.6 million displaced Somalis.

© UNHCR/Anna Hellge

Close to one million Somali refugees are currently hosted by six countries in the region surrounding their home country – and many of these children, women and men have been exiled since the civil war broke out in the early 1990s.


The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, recently allocated DKK 10 million (USD 1.6 M) from Denmark’s Emergency Reserve Fund to strengthen the response to the Somalia situation, covering Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Kenya is currently home to more than 256,000 Somali refugees who are in urgent need of basic necessities such as food, healthcare and proper shelters. More latrines are also required to prevent cholera outbreaks. In Djibouti, which hosts 12,000 Somali refugees, providing adequate water supplies in the settlements remains a challenge, while educational opportunities are limited; 4,000 children are currently out of school.

Inside Somalia, more than 2.65 million people are displaced. The majority of internally displaced people are living in overcrowded settlements with inadequate shelters, where food and basic resources are scarce.

Denmark’s contribution to the Somalia Situation will help UNHCR deliver life-saving aid such as food, clean drinking water, shelter and adequate healthcare. The funding will also allow UNHCR and partners to provide protection and support to vulnerable children and victims of gender-based violence.

In addition, the contribution will support UNHCR’s efforts to enrol refugee children in primary school and enhance self-reliance through skill training and livelihood projects. This will benefit Zamzam, for example, who is in Grade 7 at the Sheder Camp, one of three camps in the eastern part of Ethiopia.  All three camps shelter a total of about 35,000 Somali refugees.

For now, biology is Zamzam’s favourite subject but she has high ambitions for her future:

Ethiopia. Somali refugee children harbour big ambitions ©UNHCR/Anna Hellge

“When I finish school, I want to become a teacher and help my community here in the camp to get education,” she says.

More than half of Sheder Camp’s residents are eager children like Zamzam.  With funding from countries like Denmark, the children are able to attend school, nurseries and youth centres in the camp. UNHCR also works with partners to provide vocational centres for teenagers and adults.

“The emergency contribution from Denmark to the Somalia situation – one of the most underfunded situations in the world – will provide life-saving assistance, and enable UNHCR to pursue a progressive approach to protection and solutions that applies a longer-term vision to helping both displaced Somalis and host communities,” says Henrik M. Nordentoft, UNHCRs Regional Representative for Northern Europe.

The contribution will also help UNHCR continue to assist refugees who are voluntarily returning to Somalia. By the end of 2018, UNHCR had assisted a total of 84,316 Somali refugees to return home safely and respectfully, with the support for reintegration, self-reliance and rebuilding a home and future.

Denmark as a donor to UNHCR

Denmark has long ranked among UNHCR’s top ten donors, and was UNHCR’s 6th largest donor of unearmarked funding in 2017. In 2018, Denmark increased its overall funding to UNHCR, totalling USD 69.6M.

Denmark annually contributes with an Emergency Reserve Fund of DKK 50.5 million at the start of each year, which UNHCR can allocate towards the most urgent needs. The flexibility of the fund allows UNHCR to respond to emergencies, which saves lives and assists displaced people with critical protection needs and acute basic necessities. In 2018, a total of five allocations were made from the fund to operations covering the following situations: DRC (DKK 10M), Venezuela (DKK 10M), South Sudan (DKK 10.5M), Somalia (DKK 10M) and Burundi (DKK 10M).

Denmark’s other flexible contribution includes DKK 160 million in unearmarked funding. This is of vital importance to support the so-called “forgotten” refugee situations, which are critically underfunded as they attract minimal public attention.

Read about the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and Somalia response here: http://www.globalcrrf.org/crrf_country/som/