Statement by the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia On Special Summit of IGAD Heads of States and Governments on

Excellences and distinguished delegates:

Presidents, Prime Ministers and Vice Presidents of the IGAD Member States;
I would like to take this opportunity to thank H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya for hosting this special Summit on Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees.

I would also like to thank the head of the UN High Commission for Refugees, H.E. Filippo Grandi and Ambassador Alex Rondos of the European Union for co-organizing this important event.

Most importantly, I want to express my deepest gratitude to the people and governments of IGAD member states and Yemen, who collectively host more than one million Somali refugees in their countries. Your generosity to my people at the time of their greatest need is immensely appreciated. On behalf of my people, we are eternally grateful to you.

Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentleman:

I take this opportunity to commend you for the commitment you have demonstrated by attending this important summit, which renews attention to the plight of Somali refugees and IDPs, considered to be one of the most protracted problems in the world.

This summit is the culmination of a series of meetings and side events intended to bring to the attention of the world, the magnitude and complexity of the Somali refugees and IDPs. I refer here to a few of those meetings:
The High Level Global Initiative on Somali Refugees in Geneva in 2013, followed by the one in Addis Ababa in August 2014 which resulted in the Addis Ababa Commitment by the countries in the region hosting Somali refugees.

These commitments were also highlighted at the High Level Partnership Forum held in Mogadishu between 29-30 July 2015, the High Level side event on Somalia held at the margins of the General Assembly in New York on 28 September 2015, the General Assembly meeting and September’s Commitment to Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and its side event on Somali refugees, and lastly, the IGAD meeting held in Mogadishu on the 13th September 2016 and its resolution to hold this Special Summit.

These commitments and those entered into within the Tripartite Agreement of November 2013, and its six months extension, all are based on two crucial principles which are: To find sustainable and durable solutions to the problem of Somali displacement, and to preserve the institution of asylum.
Let me say at the outset that, it is my hope that we will be able to re-dedicate ourselves to the achievement of both these aspects for the benefit of the Somali displaced people.

Today, about two and half million Somali refugees and IDPs live in camps in and out of the country. Tragically, some have lived in these camps for 3 generations, all because the environment wasn’t conducive enough in Somalia for them to return. That said, many have voluntarily returned over the past few years, as conditions in their regions have improved gradually.
However, the current drought and the looming famine pose yet another challenge to voluntary return. We must not leave a stone unturned to avert another famine in Somalia.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Federal Government of Somalia has made Durable Solutions for Refugees and IDPs a centerpiece of its resilience strategy. The basis of our strategy is the inherent believe that refugees and IDPs are deeply tired of being displaced and living on handouts in squalid camps. Moreover, it’s based on the principle that the overwhelming majority of them would rather live in dignity and self-reliance. Based on that, our strategy aims to unshackle them from the vicious cycle of displacement, and investing in their innate ability to reclaim their dignity. For far too long, we have been investing in the management of refugees and IDPs. Time has come for us to invest in their God-given ability to manage themselves.

In our National Development Plan, we articulate how we intend to mitigate the root causes of the cyclical droughts in our country. We recognize that, due to the prevailing environmental degradation in Somalia and globally, future rains are likely to fail, leading to yet another drought, which in turn leads widespread displacement. Our resilience strategy calls for targeted investment in infrastructure, particularly in the areas of agriculture and livestock.

Furthermore, our Durable Solutions strategy calls for land reform, resettlement policies and investment in affordable housing. Taken together, these would facilitate the smooth return and reintegration of refugees and IDPs into their communities. This would not be easy, but I believe that we have a rare opportunity to capitalize on goodwill that prevails in Somalia following my election.

Most importantly, we hope to launch investment schemes for resettled refugees and IDPs so that they can restart and sustain their livelihoods. Many are farmers and pastoralists; But most have the inherent entrepreneurial spirit of Somalis, and they will excel in small businesses. All they would need is a small investment and a faith in their God-given talent. This could be in the form of microfinances and other incentives. Together with our private sector and development partners, we are confident that such schemes could become a catalyst for Durable Solutions for Refugees and IDPs.

As you may know, we have now established a new ministry focused on humanitarian and disaster management, recognizing the need for a more robust dedication to the current droughts and on addressing long term resilience issues.

We will present a comprehensive resilience strategy at the London Conference in May InshaAllah, and I’ll subsequently convene national stakeholders on the subject matter to operationalize our strategy. We will reach out to many of you as the time comes.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We believe that migration is also directly linked to displacement, and that’s why my government will continue the work done under IGAD’s Dialogue on Migration as well as the Khartoum Process. Our National Development Plan has a full chapter on migration, because we recognize that thousands of our young people perish as they make the perilous journey to Europe. While many of them are fleeing conflict, most are fleeing the agony of hopelessness, as a result of widespread unemployment and lack of access to basic services such as health and education. According to the recent Population Estimate Survey of Somalia, over 70% of our population is under the age of 30. We must find ways to capitalize on their energy and steer them away from radicalization and illegal migration.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We will not be able to translate our vision and strategies into tangible achievement if we don’t work together. I take this opportunity to call on humanitarian and development actors working on Somalia to relocate to Somalia. We understand that there are serious security limitations in certain areas, but the vast majority of our country is relatively peaceful. And experience shows us that, when partners operate within Somalia, their impact is qualitatively better than those operating remotely. I commit to providing whatever you need from us to enable you to work from inside Somalia.

Secondly, the leadership of the Federal Government in the implementation and coordination of projects and programs is vital. Too often, we have seen too many projects implemented without the knowledge, let alone consent, of the Federal Government. This shall NOT continue.

My administration will empower relevant line ministries to cooperate with all of you. And we will hold each other accountable to achieving declared objectives.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The problem of Somali refugees in the region has been going on for far too long. But I believe that we are at crossroads to begin to address the issue more permanently. I sincerely appreciate all the efforts made by IGAD member states to find durable solutions. I also thank the UNHCR for its tireless efforts to help Somali refugees.

Thirdly, resources aimed at Durable Solutions for Refugees and IDPs must be channeled through the Federal Government. I recognize that we need to improve our Public Financial Management Systems, and we are committed to doing just that. But I ask you to commit to using our country systems for resources.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I’m confident that you will continue to honor the institution of asylum as enshrined in the international humanitarian conventions and maintain our people in safety and dignity in the best tradition of African hospitality. From our side, we will increase our effort to jointly achieve the objective of this conference on the voluntary return of our people in a safe and dignified manner, and to provide durable solutions; so that they can participate in the rebuilding of a prosperous and peaceful Somalia at peace and harmony with itself and its neighbors.

Thank you.