Heads of States from the regional bloc IGAD are meeting today in Nairobi to deliberate on sustainable approaches on the Somali refugee issue and seek support from the international community.
The heads of states and government’s meeting precedes the IGAD ministerial committee on durable solutions for Somali refugees convened Friday by security, refugee affairs and interior ministers from the bloc.
A media advisory from IGAD says the heads of states and governments, international community and other stakeholders will meet to ‘marshal a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for Somali refugees, whilst promoting sustainable reintegration of returnees in Somalia’.
An estimated 1.1 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) within Somalia and nearly 900,000 are refugees in the region.
The Ministerial conference Friday also discussed Somalia’s political situation, the ongoing drought and called for stronger cooperation in the region to support Somalia’s recovery process.
“The ministers agreed on a regional approach and stronger cooperation between Somalia and countries of the region on a range of political, security, humanitarian, peace building, development, economic and trade issues to find lasting solutions to forced displacement in the region,” read statement from IGAD.
The ministers reviewed the draft declaration and action plan that had been prepared by the technical experts from the region whose details will be presented to the Heads of State and Government for endorsement.
President Mohamed Farmaajo and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta said Thursday in Nairobi today’s summit presents an opportunity particularly for the two countries to find more sustainable and long term solutions to the refugee challenge which has in the past caused diplomatic friction between the two countries.
“It’s an opportunity for all of us — Somalia, Kenya, and every other party in the region — to put our heads together, and to see how we can support the refugees who have endured so much. I look forward to a productive conference, as does President Mohammed,” said Kenyatta.
Kenya announced mid last year it was closing down the Daadaab refugee complex in the country’s north by November last year over what it termed as security and environmental challenges.
Somalia however protested the move terming it a violation of international law and called for adherence to the 2013 tripartite agreement between Somalia, Kenya and the refugee body, UNHCR on a gradual and humane repatriation. Kenya held back but has remained firm on its intention to close the camp.