AMMAN, Jordan – UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Somali Refugee Situation, Ambassador Mohamed Affey has expressed his appreciation to member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for their spirit of solidarity towards ensuring safety, assistance and asylum to those in need of international protection despite limited amount of resources.
Last week, while attending a workshop on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), organized by the OIC and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, Ambassador Affey noted with concern the multiplication of crisis and their multi layered dimensions globally, that calls for an enhanced approach and collective efforts and solidarity to bring innovative and comprehensive response.
He was speaking to delegates at the workshop held from 29 to 30 April, aimed at raising awareness on the CRRF and global compact on refugees among the OIC Member States and identifying possibilities for increased support to its implemetation, while capitalizing on the existing engagement by OIC in refugee situations.
Ambassador Affey noted with concern that the Somali refugee situation has been going on for over two decades, affecting three generations. “Many member states in the OIC region are living through dire crisis, generating large scale refugee flow. Despite some member states being host countries, other countries continue producing refugees,” he said.
The Special Envoy reiterated UNHCR’s continued efforts on the implementation of a new approach – “a whole of society approach” – to provide immediate and long-term assistance in order to find lasting and sustainable solutions for all persons of concern to UNCHR and host communities.
He further noted how the IGAD member states – Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda – have translated the commitments made in the New York Declaration and CRRF into action through the Special Summit on Somali Refugees held last year in March.
“All of us must put effort in helping implement the Nairobi Declaration as getting conditions inside Somalia for refugee return and reintegration and sustainable development is central to the Declaration,” Ambassador Affey said. He further added that Nairobi Declaration and its plan of action is an important framework aimed at applying the New York declaration at the regional level and help focus on the refugee situation with the objective of enhanced protection, asylum space and self-reliance.
He also noted that the regional application of the CRRF in IGAD states is being effectively implemented; efforts that continue to receive strong support from UNHCR, the European Union, United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.
During the workshop, the Special Envoy expressed UNHCR’s concern on the continued effects of the drought, conflict and lack of essential services, He reiterated UNHCR commitments towards finding durable solutions for the refugee situation. “Although many refugees are now making decisions to return home voluntarily, specifically the Somali refugees, conditions in many parts are still not conducive for safe and sustainable return,” he added.
The Special Envoy emphasized the need for the international community to continue demonstrating solidarity and responsibility-sharing by availing resettlement opportunities to refugees in need of this solution, humanitarian admission programs, opportunities for skilled migrants, labour mobility and education as a tool of international protection
He added that UNHCR will continue to seek ways of engaging other key stakeholders like local authorities, regional and international NGOs, development agencies, financial institutions, civil society, faith-based organizations, academia, the media and refugees themselves to promote sustainable reintegration.
“The Somali refugee situation is one of the world’s most protracted. Unfortunately, the shift in global focus from the situation is hindering response and assistance to refugees and host countries,” Amb Mohammed Affey said.