WASHINGTON, March 15, 2016 – With more than two million Somali’s living in makeshift homes, refugee camps or without access to basic services, government officials and development partners recently gathered to talk about durable solutions to improve their lives.
As part of the three-day Fragility Forum hosted by World Bank Somalia and the Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, a panel of experts from the United Nations, European Union, International Rescue Committee, World Bank and Federal Government of Somalia answered the question: “What will you do differently between now and World Humanitarian Summit in May?”
“We must end the exclusion of IDPs as an essential step toward peacebuilding and state building in Somalia” said Walter Kaelin, Special Advisor to the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
The panel discussion was part of a half-day conference, “Addressing Protracted Displacement - What a Durable Solution Looks Like In Somalia,” during the recent Fragility Forum 2016. The objective was to define the role of the World Bank and other development partners in creating durable solutions for returning Somali refugees and internally displaced persons, adopting approaches that can be applied to or informed by other forced displacement situations globally.
“The narrative on Somalia is changing,” said Bella Bird, World Bank country director of Somalia, Burundi, Malawi and Tanzania. “It is encouraging to see the government acknowledging the importance of addressing the displacement which affects 20% of Somalia's population.”
Somali displacement is one of the world's most protracted cases and lies at the heart of the World Bank's agenda to reduce extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. Those displaced - both internally (1.1 million) and regionally (one million) - have been excluded from basic services, security and economic opportunity for more than two decades.
Since the civil war began in 1991, Somalis have continuously fled their homeland to seek refuge from war, to avoid famine and to find a better life for their families. In the last 25 years, continued conflict has destroyed the social structure in Somalia, with education and health systems vanishing. The newly-recognized Federal Government of Somalia has spent the last three years since its transition working towards building policies and shifting international partners’ efforts toward institutional long term development. While also taking into account the need to address immediate humanitarian needs, there is recognition that deep cycles of dependency and drivers of fragility need to be addressed through activities with a longer term perspective.
“Humanitarian responses tend to focus on the short to mid-term periods,” said H.E. Zahra Samantar, Somalia’s minister of gender and human rights. “It is very positive that we are breaking with this failing tradition and looking to sustainable development. We have been using ad-hoc humanitarian approaches to address immediate needs, without looking much at the long-term and the possible 'vicious cycle' effect this ad-hoc approach may cause.”
With three months before international partners meet at the World Humanitarian Summit in May to further discuss the state of Somalia and the evolution from humanitarian aid to development, the Federal Government of Somalia has confirmed it must take the lead in securing a safe and stable environment for all of its citizens, including internally displaced persons (IDP).
“The IDP community in Somalia face many challenges.” said Mohamed Omer Arteh, deputy prime minister of Somalia. “Not the least being that their situation has become more permanent than temporary. They do not enjoy the same level of protection and access to improve their livelihoods, as other citizens. The Somali government is working on addressing these issues and finding sustainable solutions to the problems IDP's face. We have a long way to go, but I’m confident that we can do it.”