UN launches repatriation initiative for Somali refugees

Published: August 22, 2014

376223_Somalia-refugee-UNThe United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched a new initiative to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees, Press TV reports.

The UNHCR launched the Global Initiative on Somali Refugees (GISR) on Wednesday following a meeting with government ministers from selected African countries including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Yemen.

The new program, titled the “Addis Ababa Commitment towards Somali Refugees,” aims to assist in the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from several East African countries.

Participants expressed gratitude to host countries “for the solidarity and hospitality extended to Somali refugees for decades,” read a statement issued after the meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, UNHCR chief, Antonio Guterres, noted that the international aid response to refugees in East Africa continues to be severely underfunded.

More than a million Somalis live as refugees in several African and Arab countries.

Somalia has been gripped by deadly violence, including attacks against aid workers in the past months.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also warned in a July report of the alarming rates of malnutrition in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, due to inadequate funding, drought and instability.

Somalia has been the scene of clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.

Thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Somalia live in basic makeshift shelters in Mogadishu, where al-Shabab militants launch regular attacks against the government.