The Special Advisor to the Deputy Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin, has called for a new approach to humanitarian support to address the problem of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia.
Mr. Kälin concluded a two-week-long tour of Somalia that included visits to IDP camps to familiarize himself with the situation on the ground. He said the time had come to strengthen the link between humanitarian action and development programmes as part of the long-term solution to the problem of protracted displacement.
“Our actions were limited to providing humanitarian assistances but it has not helped to solve the problem of displacement. We need to find durable solutions for them, we need to invest in housing, basic services, create employment and only then we can help the IDPs to rejoin the mainstream of life in Somalia again’’, said Mr. Kalin during his visit to a camp in Baidoa.
The Special Advisor urged those involved in humanitarian programmes to look into solutions that can help IDPs integrate with host communities or return to their places of origin.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Somalia has more than one million IDPs who rely on humanitarian assistance. Mogadishu hosts around 400,000 IDPS, a figure considered high for a city hard hit by two decades of conflict.
Faduma Maalim, an IDP in Baidoa, has lived in a settlement camp for 10 years and described the difficult living conditions its inhabitants must contend with. “We survive on whatever we receive from people. We need a better life”, she said. Kadija Sharif Muse and Muktar Osman Yarow, both IDPs in Kismaayo, also urged the government and the international community to come to their aid.
The federal Minister of Housing and Works, Salah Sheik Osman, stated that the government is ready to address the problem and will work with international partners to improve the living conditions of IDPs. “The Federal Government of Somalia is ready to tackle the issue of IDPs. We will create jobs for the people living in camps,” he said.
More than 68 per cent of people facing food insecurity are internally displaced. According to UNOCHA, many live in appalling conditions in settlements spread throughout the country, facing the continuous risk of forced evictions, discrimination, violation of children’s rights and pervasive gender-based violence.
The visits were part of a nationwide consultation with Somali leaders and relevant stakeholders to which Special Advisor Kälin has provided his advice on how stakeholders should address displacement in Somalia and explore durable solutions to the problems facing IDPs.