As conflict and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic exacerbate insecurity, UNHCR, supported by Finland, protects Somali refugees, regardless of their age, gender, and disability.
Haneen embraces her mother Khadra. They can access essential services like childcare and psychosocial services through the family centre in Sana’a, Yemen. © UNHCR/SDF.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, helps protect over half a million refugees from Somalia seeking safety and protection elsewhere. In Yemen, a country often described as suffering the world’s worst humanitarian crisis itself, Somalis form the largest refugee group, with their numbers exceeding 150,000. UNHCR provides them with safe shelter, cash assistance and legal support, with a special focus on the most vulnerable, amongst them refugees with disabilities.
Seven-year-old Haneen is a Somali refugee girl living with her mother and siblings in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. She was born with Down’s syndrome and therefore requires special educational support. Refugee access to education has been a continuous challenge, made more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent contribution from Finland means that UNHCR and its local partners can continue the special education programme for Haneen and other Somali refugee children.
The inclusion of children with disabilities makes them less vulnerable to child labour and early marriage. Finland’s recent contribution of USD 3 million to the Somalia situation ensures school enrolment of Somali children in Yemen and provides them with school materials, such as stationery and bags. In addition, the funding keeps the family centre open, which means refugee families, and refugees with disabilities, can access assistive mobility devices, recreational activities, and psychosocial support.
“Keeping education programmes going for some of the world’s most vulnerable children in the time of a pandemic is extremely challenging, but it can be done through close collaboration with national partners and special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The important financial contribution received from Finland makes this possible,” says Henrik M. Nordentoft, UNHCR’s Representative to the Nordic and Baltic Countries.
Finland is an important donor and strategic partner for UNHCR. In 2020, Finland’s total contribution to UNHCR amounted to USD 27.4 million, an increase from previous years in response to escalating refugee needs. Of this contribution, USD 7.7 million was provided as flexible unearmarked funding, which allows UNHCR to allocate the funding to meet the most urgent requests. Finland further contributed USD 2.3 million to UNHCR’s COVID-19 efforts in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.