MOGADISHU, Somalia, June 29, 2020/ — Marking World Refugee Day, the United Nations in Somalia today called for continued efforts to alleviate the plight of refugees and displaced persons in Somalia.
Despite significant efforts by the Somali authorities, there are still at least 2.6 million Somalis who are internally displaced, and the country hosts more than 30,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Ethiopia and Yemen.
“I pay tribute to the resilience and courage of refugees and displaced persons, and all those fleeing conflict or persecution. I assure them that the United Nations is committed to their protection and to helping to rebuild their livelihoods. We also support the Somali government to uphold their right to asylum and protection. This has been made more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan,
“World Refugee Day comes at a time of a triple threat for Somalia – in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is dealing with effects of desert locusts and flooding. These have presented unprecedented challenges, yet we have seen remarkable resilience and contributions from displaced persons who are doing their part to make a difference, with activities such as making face masks and soap[AR1] . We must stand with them and ensure that the gains are not lost,” said the Representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Johann Siffointe.
In Somalia, refugees and displaced populations are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic due to the large number of people living in congested urban centres and settlements for internally displaced people (IDPs).
Nearly 800,000 Somali refugees continue to reside in the Horn of Africa region, with outflow figures in recent years in sharp decline given Somalia’s progress in peace and security. Over the course of the past decade, many refugees have decided to return home and UNHCR has assisted with voluntary repatriation of more than 90,000 Somali refugees.
World Refugee Day celebrates the extraordinary courage and resilience of the forcibly displaced and pays tribute to the generosity of host and donor governments and populations. The theme of this year’s Day is ‘Everyone can make a difference, Every Action Counts’ and comes against a backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic and calls for equality.