Saturday, July 13, 2013
The United Nations is urging the
international community to support refugees in the Horn of Africa.
Resources to assist Somali refugees are not adequate.
The UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, needs an additional $110 million to fund its operations in the Horn of Africa.
UNHCR chief António Guterres just concluded a working trip, visiting
Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia to discuss the refugee challenges the region
He said the international community is concentrating its attention on
other situations, such as Syria, and is forgetting about the Horn of
"We are not able to find all the resources that would be necessary,
the international community has not been able to match the generosity of
Ethiopia with the support that would be needed to make the protection
and the assistance to the refugees coming to this country and the
capacity to find solutions for them, much more effective," he said.
Ethiopia hosts close to 240,000 Somali refugees, and hundreds more
cross the border daily. Providing all these refugees with land, shelter,
food and water is costing millions of dollars. The UNHCR needs $192
million for the Horn of Africa, but the operational budget is currently
only $81 million.
Kenya is hosting even more Somali refugees than Ethiopia, although
Ethiopia has an open border policy for Somalis and also encourages
refugees to take part in "out-of-camp" programs to be part of society.
That is a move that UNHCR chief Guterres would like to see multiplied in
other countries, but he stresses that investing in Somalia is just as
important to provide refugees with a better future:
"The main effort that needs to be done is creating in Somalia the
security conditions, but also the provision of basic services and living
opportunities, in order to allow for Somalis to be able to go back in
safety and dignity to their country," said Guterres.
The UNHCR pushed Kenya to agree that the return of Somali refugees
should always be voluntarily. The refugee agency will also support
establishing a tri-party committee between Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia
to see how better support can be provided to Somali refugees.