As one of the main architects of the Durable Solutions Initiative (DSI), and former Special Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Professor Walter Kaelin returns to Somalia to review progress and advise on the next steps of the DSI.
In Somalia, around 1.1 million men, women and children live in protracted displacement and an estimated 895,000 people have been displaced due to drought since November 2016, as of mid-August. Fleeing from insecurity and loss of livelihoods due to climatic shocks and the absence of services, those who reach urban areas put an increased pressure on host communities that themselves struggle with available resources. In addition, the population density and demographic/ethnic profile of Somalia’s urban populations is changing rapidly, increasing the risk of localized conflicts and social exclusion.
To address the longstanding problems of displacement and the issues surrounding it, the Federal Government of Somalia and the UN Somalia have been spearheading the DSI for the past two years, together with the World Bank, NGOs, and the international community. As Special Advisor on internally displaced persons to the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (DSRSG/RC/HC) for Somalia, Professor Kaelin already conducted three missions to Somalia and helped launch the DSI in 2015. Led by the Government of Somalia, the DSI is a collective framework aligned to the National Development Plan and aims to collectively guide approaches and programming on durable solutions.
For his fourth mission, Kaelin met with local authorities and partners in Kismayo, capital of Jubaaland State, Dollow, a small town in the Geddo region, Baidoa, the administrative capital of South West State, and the federal capital, Mogadishu.
“I have come to see the progress made by the government of Jubbaland. It has provided land to displaced persons, returnees, host communities and that is a very encouraging beginning. But we need to invest more in the development of these areas to create livelihoods; to bring services and to make Kismayo a lively city with a growing economy so that these people can be integrated into that growing economy,” Mr. Kaelin stated during its visit to Jubbaland.
Despite many successes under the DSI, particularly under the challenging circumstances of the ongoing drought, Kaelin also identified numerous challenges that remain: The lack of clarity on division of roles and responsibilities between government institutions, and discrepancies between capacities of the different states.
To tackle protracted displacement characteristic to Somalia, as well as the effects of reoccurring climate shocks to vulnerable populations, Professor Kaelin has been a strong advocate for linking emergency humanitarian response early on with development initiatives, in order to combine early recovery efforts with longer-term support that strengthens people’s and communities’ resilience.
“Displaced persons receive humanitarian assistance and we are able to save their lives but in the long term, we need to switch to development approach and to make them productive again. […] how can we, in the long term, help displaced persons find solutions to stand up and get back on their feet again?”, urged Kaelin during his visit.
With the displaced population making out 20% of Somalia’s total population, the displacement challenge carries more burden and risks than meets the eye: Somalia’s peace and development trajectory is closely linked to resolving displacement and finding durable solutions for the hundreds of thousands of Somalis that are today not able to realise their social, political and economic opportunities. Only when, in the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, no one is left behind, can Somalia embark on a future of peace and prosperity.