Mogadishu, 20 June– On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Somalia pays tribute to the millions of people forcibly displaced all over the world.
World Refugee Day is marked on 20 June each year to highlight the courage and resilience of millions of people forced to flee war, conflict and persecution. The day is also an opportunity to express gratitude to governments and host populations that offer asylum, support and protection to refugees.
The theme for 2019 is “inclusion; inclusion of refugees, IDPs and stateless people”. This year, UNHCR is also rallying people around the world to honour the resilience and determination of displaced people in a global movement dubbed, “Step With Refugees”. The campaign invites people to step in solidarity with refugees by either walking, running, dancing, swimming or cycling. Regional organizations are also taking note of the crisis. The African Union declared 2019 as the year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs).
Globally, the displacement crisis in recent years has been unprecedented. At least one person is forcibly uprooted from their homes around the world every two seconds. In total, 70.8 million have been forced to flee their homes globally – among them 25.9 million refugees.
“We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record; and host countries need to ensure the active inclusion of refugees and other displaced families in their countries’ development agenda. Refugees and others in similar situations bring with them great skills and can make meaningful contributions in their communities. Giving them equal opportunities to use their skills also promotes self-reliance and empowerment.” said Takeshi Moriyama, UNHCR Acting Representative.
Somalia is at the epicentre of the refugee and displacement crisis. The country remains one of the top five refugee producing countries in the world with most of its nationals seeking asylum in neighbouring Ethiopia, Kenya and Yemen. More than 2.6 people are also internally displaced mainly due to conflict, drought, floods and evictions. The majority of the internally displaced are located in Banadir, Bay, Sool, and Gedo and Bari regions.
Despite its own internal challenges, Somalia is generously hosting over 34,000 refugees and asylum seekers largely from Ethiopia and Yemen. They mainly live in Woqooyi Galbeed, Bari and Banadir regions. Somali nationals have also been returning home spontaneously from countries of asylum as well as through the UNHCR supported Voluntary Repatriation (Volrep) and the Assisted Spontaneous Return (ASR) Programs. UNHCR has received more than 126,000 returnees from 12 countries including Kenya, Yemen, Djibouti, Libya, Sudan, Eritrea, Tunisia, Angola, Gambia, Pakistan and Cambodia.
An estimated 5.4 million people are likely to be food insecure by September.
GENEVA, Switzerland, June 5, 2019 -This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Ahead of World Environment Day tomorrow, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for urgent additional support to help people affected and displaced by drought in Somalia.
Below average rains during the “Gu” (April-June 2019) and “Deyr” (October – December 2018) rainy seasons have caused worsening drought in many parts of the country. An estimated 5.4 million people are likely to be food insecure by September.
Some 2.2 million of these will be in severe conditions needing immediate emergency assistance unless aid is urgently scaled up.
The drought has also forced more than 49,000 people to flee their homes since the beginning of the year as they search for food, water, aid and work mostly in urban areas. People who are already displaced because of conflict and violence are also affected by the drought, at times disproportionally.
More than 7,000 people were displaced last month alone.
Three main regions of Somalia – South Central, Puntland and Somaliland – have been affected, despite marginal to average rains and flash flooding in some regions. The worst affected areas include the Sanaag, Sool, Awdal, Bari, Nugaal, Mudug, Galgadud, Hiran regions of the country.
The latest drought comes just as the country was starting to recover from a drought in 2016 to 2017 that led to the displacement inside Somalia of over a million people. Many remain in a protracted state of displacement.
UNHCR and humanitarian partners fear that severe climatic conditions combined with armed conflict and protracted displacement could push the country into a far bigger humanitarian emergency. Decades of climatic shocks and conflict have left more than 2.6 million people internally displaced.
To avert a humanitarian crisis, aid agencies launched a Drought Response Plan on 20 May, appealing for US$710.5 million to provide life-saving assistance to 4.5 million people affected by the drought. To date this is 20 per cent funded.
UNHCR has been working with partners and government agencies to assist those affected and displaced by the drought by providing emergency assistance in some of the most affected areas.
Worldwide, weather-related hazards, including storms, cyclones, floods, droughts, wildfires and landslides displaced 16.1 million people last year alone.
With climate change amplifying the frequency and intensity of sudden disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and tornados, and contributing to more gradual environmental phenomena, such as drought and rising sea levels, it is expected to drive even more displacement in the future.
UNHCR is calling for more international action to prevent climate-related disasters, scale up efforts to strengthen resilience and to protect people affected by climate change using all available legal frameworks.