UN refugee chief finds Somalia suffering from instability and drought, but sees hope
KISMAYO – On a visit to the recovering southern port city of Kismayo, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, pledged to continue investing in housing, education and livelihoods for returning refugees, IDPs and the local population.
“We see refugees … as an asset into which we need to invest.” “Refugees should be a force to rebuild the country when they decide to come back,” Grandi said, noting that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, assisted over 100,000 to return over the past two years, while over one million remain in exile.
“We see refugees not as a humanitarian problem, but as an asset into which we need to invest,” he added.
In a meeting with the President of the State of Jubaland, Ahmed Mohamed Islam, the President spoke of the need for refugees who were educated and trained to come to Kismayo to contribute.
While some 19,000 refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp are currently in the pipeline for voluntary return, most Somali refugees cite security concerns as their top reason to remain in Kenya.
The UNHCR and Mercy Corps project is designed to provide returning refugees, but also a percentage of people who had been internally displaced as well as people from the local community, with a decent living environment so they can focus on educating their children and pursuing work.
What a great result to see young people go from being refugee to being back in their country, contributing to their country.” But the refugees are returning to a country with massive challenges.
Given the country’s current struggles, Somalia’s Federal President, Mohamed Farmajo, told Grandi at a meeting on Saturday in Mogadishu, “We want our people back.
“The best response to violence is education so what can be better that building a school,” Grandi said.
In his meetings with the Somalia leadership, Grandi recalled UNHCR’s work with Somali refugees since the start of the conflict in 1991.