Global Compact for Refugees - UNHCR

Somali Situation


­­­­Somalia continues taking significant steps towards stabilization. A Federal President was elected in February 2017 as well as a new Parliament of which a quarter of its Members of Parliament are women. The vibrant young population, accounting for more than 70%, is key to Somalia’s future once tangible peace dividends such as education and employment are available to them. There are 835,905 refugees and asylum seekers[1] in the region who require international protection, assistance and solutions to their plight, in addition to more than 2.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs)[2] inside Somalia, fuelling competition over limited resources. Although Somali refugees have injected economic dynamism in host countries in the region, such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Uganda, and Yemen, their protracted presence has had social and environmental impacts, especially on hosting communities. Comprehensive, innovative and predictable approaches benefiting both refugees and host communities must be found across the region to alleviate the pressure of host countries, preserve asylum space and maintain appropriate levels of protection and assistance.

Normative Framework

The application of comprehensive responses for the Somali refugee situation is embedded in paragraph 11 of Annex I of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants (September 2016), which “reaffirms the primary goal of bringing about conditions that would help refugees return in safety and dignity to their countries”.

For the first time,  the need to find durable solutions to displacement and to reintegrate Somalis who have voluntarily returned to their home country in safety and dignity, has been included in Somalia’s 2017-2019 National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP is the overarching normative framework for the implementation of durable solutions and thereby guiding the application of the CRRF in Somalia.

With references to displacement included in several chapters[3], the NDP recognizes development projects and a comprehensive approach to displacement as a key, cross-cutting theme towards durable solutions. In its chapter 9 on resilience, durable solutions for IDPs and returnees are explicitly recognized as a goal, broken down into the following three objectives:

  • Strategic Objective 1: Ensure access to all rights through enhanced (local) governance and rule of law
  • Strategic Objective 2: Political participation and influence in decision-making for IDPs and returnees
  • Strategic Objective 3: Access to basic services, housing and land, and the labour market


 A regional approach to comprehensive responses

The roll-out of a comprehensive response for the Somali refugee situation is centred on implementing a regional approach to support and facilitate the creation of an enabling environment and the rolling out of durable solutions, involving Somalia’s neighbouring countries in the East and Horn of Africa and Yemen.

The UN High Commissioner’s for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi, appointed a Special Envoy (SE) for the Somali Refugee Situation in September 2016, H.E Ambassador Affey, with a view to support and strengthen international and regional cooperation at the highest political level in order to maximise efforts in the search for durable solutions for the protracted displaced Somali community.

At the Special Summit of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which was held in Nairobi in March 2017, Heads of States of the sub-region met to discuss refugees as a single agenda item. They adopted the Nairobi Declaration on Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees and Reintegration of returnees in Somalia and its comprehensive Plan of Action, committing to jointly pursue a regional approach to address the protracted situation for Somali refugees. Under the leadership of IGAD, and with the support of the European Union, UNHCR, World Bank, UNDP and many other partners, this became the regional application of the CRRF.

In the Nairobi Plan of Action, the Somali Government committed to organising a National Forum on solutions to refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to “build a national consensus on what needs to be done to create conducive conditions for sustainable solutions and reintegration”. The National Forum on Durable Solutions for Refugees, Returnees, and IDPs, which was held in Mogadishu in August 2017 under Government leadership, was the first time in over thirty years of conflict and unrest, that Somalis themselves – through their government, civil society and community leaders – were leading discussions on displacement. The National Forum was the starting point for countrywide consultations on the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) on Durable Solutions and a Policy on IDPs and Refugees. The NAP was endorsed by cabinet Ministers on 15 March 2018, following a briefing by the Minister of Interior, Federalism and Reconciliation and the National Commission for Refugees and IDPs (NCRI).  The final version of the NAP was also presented at the IGAD Ministerial stocktaking meeting held on 20-22 March 2018, where, a year after the Nairobi Declaration was signed, Ministers from all IGAD countries came together to take stock of progress.[4] IGAD Ministers presented their CRRF national action plans and agreed to finalize them by the end of 2018.

A first regional thematic conference on refugee education was held in Djibouti in December 2017 and resulted in the adoption of the Djibouti Declaration on Regional Refugee Education and its Plan of Action, including the landmark commitment of all IGAD member States to include refugees in national education plans. At the Ministerial stocktaking meeting, Ministers committed to hold the second regional thematic conference within six months on the theme of livelihoods and economic growth in refugee-hosting areas.

Implementing Frameworks

Indicative of increased government leadership on displacement issues, the Somali Government leads the planning and implementation of the NDP through Pillar Working Groups (PWGs). The PWGs reflect the whole-of-society approach that is necessary to deliver truly comprehensive and sustainable responses to displacement. As such, key line ministries such as the Ministries of Interior, Education, Health, Planning, Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management (MoHADM) are actively involved. UNHCR is working with all stakeholders to ensure that the work plans of the PWGs are consistent with the objectives of the CRRF.

Somalia’s efforts to reintegrate returning refugees and (re)integrate IDPs in line with the NDP are implemented mainly through the Durable Solutions Initiative (DSI). The DSI encompasses solutions for IDPs and returning refugees, and provides an opportunity for partners to support the efforts of national and local authorities that have already launched significant initiatives in key return areas, namely Kismayo, Baidoa, and Mogadishu. The Government has tested and implemented a first set of programmes, leading to the development of a strong area-based, government-led and community-driven durable solutions methodology that can be scaled up at federal and local level.

In addition to supporting scalable interventions under DSI, the CRRF in Somalia also supports the Comprehensive Approach to Security (CAS) and the fiscal reform agenda. The comprehensive approach to security articulated by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has generated much needed focus on the political aspects of security within Somalia. Without these, prospects for sustainable returns of Somalis is compromised.

Funding, operational and advocacy requirements to pursue CRRF objectives 

Programmatic Areas

The pursuit of durable solutions in Somalia requires a cross-cutting approach, considering the perspectives of displaced communities in humanitarian and development programmes, in particular in the following areas:

  • Addressing poverty, recognizing that displaced persons are often worse-off financially than other groups;
  • Pursuing economic, social and human development, by supporting the re-entry into the labour force and market of formerly displaced communities;
  • Infrastructure development, building or restoring infrastructure systems and social services required to support the return and reintegration of displaced communities, including housing, water, sanitation, health, and education;
  • Strengthening rule of law and physical security of displaced communities, and addressing the barriers to their equal enjoyment of rights and access to services;
  • Strengthening social cohesion and political participation;
  • Addressing root causes of protracted of (internal) displacement: forced evictions, land issues, gatekeepers, freedom of movement and security.

Addressing the above areas of intervention entails considering longer-term planning in humanitarian interventions, including perspectives and needs of returnees and IDPs in development programmes, and mainstreaming displacement issues into programmes across all sectors.

In addition to mainstreaming solutions objectives in individual programmes, several joint programmes are already being implemented in Somalia, bringing together the respective strengths and capacities of participating agencies and organisations. These include the UN Joint Midnimo Programme (UN HABITAT and IOM), intended to enhance local leadership capacities to facilitate sustainable returns, recovery, social integration and peaceful co-existence in Jubaland and South West States; the UN Joint Kenya-Somalia refugees and peacebuilding cross-border pilot projects supporting Somali refugee returnees in Baidoa; and the EU Trust Fund’s “RE-INTEG programme: Enhancing Somalia’s responsiveness to the management and reintegration of mixed migration flows”. Despite the encouraging programmes underway, projects addressing durable solutions are still too limited in number, scope and scale to yield significant, broad-based impact. While most of these projects target specific geographic areas, further funding for the application of the CRRF would be instrumental to replicate or scale- projects in other locations.

Legislation and Policies

Attaining the CRRF objectives also requires pursuing legislative and policy changes in central areas. While the NDP guides the implementation of comprehensive approaches at central level, there are no conceptual and normative frameworks relevant to durable solutions at the federal level.

Some of the ways to address this include:

  • The federal government envisaged laws on personal identify/civil registration and on voter registration which should ensure that returnees and IDPs, as citizens of Somalia, can exercise their rights even if they are unwilling or unable to return to their place of former habitual residence;
  • A federal policy on IDPs, consistent with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, should be pursued. Federal Governments that have not already done so should be encouraged to develop IDP policies that are tailored to their specific contexts. The IDP policies of Somaliland and Puntland may be used as examples;
  • The development process of the IGAD Protocol on Free Movement of Persons[5] in the IGAD Region should also be supported, recognizing that the adoption of the protocol would contribute significantly to objectives 2-4 of the Nairobi Declaration and Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Governments at all levels of Somalia should be encouraged to continue leading efforts to find durable solutions to the displacement of Somalis inside Somalia and in the region. Insecurity, the role of gate-keepers and frequent evictions are of a primarily political nature. The competent authorities play a key role in addressing such political challenges that hinder progress towards durable solutions.


CRRF Contact persons in the UNHCR Somalia Office and Regional Service Centre Nairobi

Ahmed Ainte, Somalia Office,

Mélissa Ngoga, RSC Nairobi,


[1] As of 31 March 2018

[2] As of 31 January 2018

[3] Including: Chapter III on poverty; Chapter V on economic development; Chapter VII on social and human development; Chapter VIII on infrastructure

[4] Read the official IGAD communiqué on the stocktaking meeting here.

[5] For more information, see p. 3 of the IGAD Newsletter from January-March 2018 here.

6 main countries hosting Somali refugees: 

Kenya (33%)

Yemen (31%)

Ethiopia (29,7%)

Uganda (4,5%)

Djibouti (1,5%)

Eritrea (0,3%)


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Two Year Progress Assessment of the CRRF Approach (Sep 2016 - Sep 2018)

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This report was prepared by the Evaluation Service, UNHCR.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (4 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (4 months ago )

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Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (4 months ago )

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Local integration focus: Somaliland 2018

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This report presents a review of existing data and assessments to identify gaps and opportunities to inform (re)integration planning and programing for displacement affected communities.

Published: 3 April, 2018 (8 months ago )
Uploaded: 3 April, 2018 (8 months ago )

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