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Speech of Prime Minister at the High-level closing panel of the Global Refugee Forum

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen, 

I am pleased to join you today at the close of this forum which has among others, triggered a deep reflection of how we deal with the issue of refugees and how we can improve in our collective efforts. In this regard, I would like to thank the UNHCR High Commissioner Mr. Phillipo Grandi, the Swiss Government and the co-conveners for organizing this timely inaugural forum.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen, 

This subject is deeply personal to me. At a tender age, I was forced to leave the warm and familiar, to the cold and uncertain life as a refugee. Like it is for many refugees, this journey requires an insurmountable amount of courage.

The most difficult being, gathering the courage to leave everything behind and rebuild in a new environment. To start a fresh – often, against all odds. I acknowledge that for many reasons, chief of all luck, many refugees like me at the time, did not get the opportunities that I did.

As a refugee worker for over a decade, I remained dedicated to the refugee cause and sought to address refugee issues passionately. The challenges were vast and the response was largely inadequate. However, I must admit that despite facing great difficulties, the courage, hope, and resilience that is characteristic of many refugees, always shone through.

Today as Prime Minister, I am confronted with the same challenges albeit with a greater expectation from those I represent, to among others, ensure stability, provide protection and find sustainable solutions to forced displacement. 

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen, 

In Somalia, many lives have been lost and thousands have been forcibly displaced within and outside the country. About 1 million Somalis are living as refugees in neighboring countries while 2.6 million people are internally displaced.

Additionally, Somalia host about 35,000 refugees from the region and is a transit state for migrants seeking better livelihoods in the Gulf and beyond. Improved conditions in-country have seen the return of about 90,000 Somali returnees.

While we continue to work on further improvements of conditions to support refugee returns, I take this opportunity to call for the continued protection of all asylum seekers and refugees wherever they have sought protection.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen, 

For decades, Somalia and its generous partners mounted robust response programs to address the needs of refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities. Funds, to the tune of billions, have been spent on relief items and related support. However, despite these efforts, the drivers of displacement recurred, often raising the need for more support and for an increasing number of people in need.

Many years later, this vicious cycle of crises and the ‘traditional’ systems of response continues with little variation. This method of response, best characterized as “ad-hoc”, “miniscule” and “hand to mouth”, has helped to save lives in the short-term but experience shows, that it has done little to build the resilience of communities to survive future shocks. It has done little if any to provide sustainable solutions to complex and protracted situations.

Experience shows that responding to a crisis only when the casualty count starts, results in increased loss of lives and goes against the principle of humanity. Experience shows, that eventually, this way of working is costly both in terms of human lives and resources utilized.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen, 

We MUST change the way we do business in addressing the issues in Somalia. We MUST seek sustainable solutions and pursue development approaches to address humanitarian concerns.

We MUST acknowledge that eventually, it is the extent of engagement of development actors working hand in hand with the government that determines continued resilience of populations and prevents a slip back to crisis and displacement.

We MUST focus on addressing the root causes and the drivers of displacement. In this regard, we MUST invest unreservedly in improving good governance, the security sector, economic recovery, and social services, which are critical elements for peace and stability.

We MUST agree that the needs of those who have lived in displacement for years are varied but include to return to a safe and prosperous home and if we are committed to ensuring this, then we MUST invest meaningfully in improving conditions in countries of origin.

In the spirit of burden sharing, we MUST work better to support Somalia whose population is displaced within and outside the country, which is itself a refugee-hosting country, a migrant transit country, a returnee receiving country and lastly a country rising and rebuilding from decades of instability.

We MUST acknowledge that to achieve lasting solutions, there are NO short-cuts and NO half-hearted approaches.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen

The New York Declaration for refugees and migrants and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework provides a good platform to pursue protection and solutions to refugee problems. Its spirit acknowledges that some countries bear a heavier burden than others in dealing with refugee issues and calls for support to the countries in these situations. It is reassuring to know that if actualized, refugees in the region and beyond will benefit.

I, however, would like to call for an expanded application of this approach to include protection, assistance, and solutions in situations of refugee return as well as protracted IDP situations. An expanded approach would ensure that refugees who benefit from comprehensive support in countries of asylum would have similar support back at home.

With regard to IDPs, this approach will help to stabilize populations and prevent secondary displacement. For this approach to succeed it must respond full-circle to displacement from start to end.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen, 

Somalia is on a path of recovery with a renewed sense of optimism and increased expectation from its passionate and talented population.

To match, the Federal Government of Somalia is focused on creating enabling conditions by revamping efforts to address insecurity, finding durable solutions to address recurrent natural and man-made crises, prioritizing infrastructure development, delivery of quality basic services, skills building, creation of jobs and livelihood opportunities in formal and informal sectors as well as local and international investment.

Such a development-focused investment in Somalia will stabilize the population, boost economic growth, improve living conditions and at the same time serve as a propeller for preventing displacement and achieving sustainable solutions. In line with the National Development Plan, Somalia in the next five years pledges to;

  1. Relocate and Reintegrate 5,000 Refugees, 25,000 Refugee-Returnees and 50,000 IDPs
  • To create 250,000 new jobs in the fields of agriculture, light manufacturing and construction for IDPs & Refugee-Returnees. 25% of these jobs will be allocated to IDPs and refugee-returnees.
  • To realign resources from the federal government as well as from humanitarian and development partners to find a permanent solution for the recurring flood and drought cycle which is a key driver of displacement.
  • To develop an inclusive National Durable Solutions Strategy and action plan, and reinforce the National Durable Solutions Secretariat to ensure strengthened coordination across the Federal Member States.

Addressing these key strategic elements is an enormous task, which requires a holistic approach and resources to match. We call upon partners, to help us in this important undertaking. Through the strengthened partnerships, your continuous support will enhance our efforts in recovery and development.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies, and Gentlemen

In crafting a new way of working to find solutions, we must ask, what is the human cost of not adopting a new way of delivery? What are the consequences of responding or investing later than NOW? How do we account for the billions we have spent on this cause? And lastly, are our efforts making a lasting impact? For many reasons, we fall short. We MUST do better.

As leaders, we MUST reflect on our words and actions. Our politics and policies should not instill fear and create further displacement and strife. Our words and actions should promote unity and harmony. Let our efforts bring out the best in people. Let us understand that refugees are an underutilized resource and as such, our words and actions should seek to bring out the best in them.

After all, we have a moral duty to protect and support the most vulnerable people.

Thank you


Xafiiska Warbaahinta iyo Xiriirka
Muqdisho, Soomaaliya