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UN Appeals for Funds to Care for Somali Refugees

Saturday, July 13, 2013

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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 is facing.

He said the international community is concentrating its attention on other situations, such as Syria, and is forgetting about the Horn of Africa:

"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.

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