Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Plight of Somali Refugees

Refugees International released a brief report on 20 March 2012 titled Somali Refugees: Ongoing Crisis, New Realities. Written by Melanie Teff and Mark Yarnell, it is based on their recent visit to the region and contains some sensible recommendations.

Although the United Nations has declared that famine conditions no longer exist in south-central Somalia, the ongoing conflict is keeping a large number of Somali refugees from voluntarily returning to Somalia. In mid-October, Kenya suspended the registration of new refugee arrivals to Dadaab refugee camp. While the government of Kenya deserves credit for hosting such a large number of refugees for so many years, it seems to be moving away from its long tradition of being a generous host to Somalis seeking refuge from conflict and food insecurity. The deterioration of security in Dadaab also poses a major challenge.

Ethiopia received a large influx of Somali refugees during the famine in Somalia. The government of Ethiopia has kept open its border and continues to register new refugee arrivals. Nevertheless, Refugees International reports that the situation of Somali refugees in Ethiopia is precarious.

Refugees International argues that donor governments must maintain their level of focus and funding for refugee operations in the region. It urges the international community to take a strong stand against any suggestion of forced return of Somali refugees by Kenya or any other government.

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