Operation: Opération: Somalia



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
18,476 flood-affected households were assisted with core relief items and emergency shelter kits
17,600 IDP households were provided with unrestricted cash grants or core relief item kits
100% of refugees and asylum-seekers were individually registered in proGres v4/Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) database
100% of registered refugees had access to primary health care services
90% of registered school-aged refugee children had access to primary education
2021 planning figures
2.6 million IDPs, 109,000 Somali returnees and 28,000 refugees and asylum-seekers will receive assistance
100% of registered refugees will have access to primary health care
90% of registered school-aged refugee children will be enrolled in primary education
80% of IDP households will receive basic and domestic items
70% of IDP women will receive sanitary supplies
64% of Somali returnee youths (aged 15-24) will be enrolled in certified livelihoods training

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 3,282,498
2019 2,712,622
2018 2,769,028


[["Refugees",11235],["Asylum-seekers",13229],["IDPs",2967500],["Returned IDPs",288966],["Returned refugees",1560],["Others of concern",8]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[165.91668118,118.079818567,186.38427484000002,183.29162524,154.37925103,157.07604869],"expenditure":[50.90649389,77.0882735,64.84599844,66.67223914,54.94857432,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[93.41383409999999,55.025162457,79.06649112999999,34.26107633,42.8765389,48.3899429],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[34.862433409999994,23.49323017,58.449545969999996,112.6362472,76.66090962,74.25887333],"p4":[37.64041367,39.56142594,48.868237740000005,36.39430171,34.84180251,34.42723246]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[29.51135868,43.41707683,33.68236103,12.938005720000001,13.79526826,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[8.31500207,17.82340434,20.23522218,27.537035739999997,21.27293839,null],"p4":[13.080133140000001,15.84779233,10.92841523,26.19719768,19.880367670000002,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

In addition to the conflict that has lasted for decades, Somalia had to contend with floods, locust infestations and COVID-19. The political environment was influenced by the elections, which were originally planned for late 2020, but did not take place. All this made for a continuingly challenging protection environment.

COVID-19 significantly affected UNHCR's operations. Pandemic-related measures announced by the Federal Government of Somalia included restrictions on movement, and suspensions of non-critical assistance and services including education and the facilitation of refugee returns. Most refugees, asylum-seekers, IDPs and returnees lost their livelihoods and had serious trouble meeting their basic household needs.

UNHCR supported the Government by providing technical support in building an effective asylum system, culminating in the development of the Refugee Act which was pending parliamentary endorsement at the end of 2020. Supported by UNHCR, in March 2020 Somalia deposited the Instruments for Ratification of the Kampala Convention with the African Union. Draft national IDP legislation was also undergoing internal review at the end of the year.

UNHCR led the protection and shelter clusters and co-led the CCCM cluster and worked with international and national NGO partners in delivering protection and assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers, IDPs and returnees in highly volatile conditions in both rural and urbanized contexts.

Population trends

UNHCR conducted the first country-wide verification exercise of refugees and asylum-seekers in 2020 using the Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS). Upon completion, the total active population reduced by 38%, resulting in a new total of 24,464 refugees and asylum-seekers in Somalia. There were also almost 3 million IDPs in the country.

UNHCR’s Protection Return Monitoring Network recorded over 1.3 million displacements across the country (significantly more than the 770,000 displacements recorded by PRMN in 2019).

Since December 2014, more than 131,000 Somali refugees have returned, including some 600 during 2020, of whom 190 were assisted to return from Kenya while 329 returned from Yemen and 81 from other countries.

Key achievements

UNHCR responded to emergencies caused by natural disasters, with 18,476 flood-affected households assisted with core relief items and emergency shelter kits. In response to Cyclone Gati which caused landslides in Puntland, UNHCR distributed core relief items and emergency shelter kits to 2,900 households.

To advance the principles of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, UNHCR advocated with the Government to include refugees in the national development plan and other government initiatives related to durable solutions. Notable achievements include the new Durable Solutions Strategy and realigned National Action Plan, and a review of the return and reintegration strategy of Somali refugees for 2020-2022 by the Governments of Kenya and Somalia.

UNHCR coordinated with the UN-wide effort to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 983,000 people were reached through information campaigns, 15 isolation and quarantine centres were supported, and 73 hand-washing facilities installed in public areas.

Unmet needs

Refugees and asylum-seekers in Somalia continued to need support with access to essential services, including education, vocational training, health care, and livelihoods. This was partly due to COVID-19-related restrictions but also due to overstretched public resources coupled with the high cost of living. People who lack access to services remained vulnerable to various forms of violence and human rights violations.

IDPs faced multiple protection risks including overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions with limited access to basic services, and were at risk of eviction, family separation, exposure to explosive hazards and gender-based violence. IDPs from minority groups were particularly vulnerable, as they lack vital clan protection and connections.

Despite UNHCR’s advocacy for a moratorium on them, forced evictions remained one of the most pressing and prevalent protection threats in Somalia. This was particularly the case for IDPs and poor households because of underdeveloped regulatory frameworks for housing, land and property rights. Land allocation and ownership also remained a severely unmet need for refugee returnees who often do not own land upon return to Somalia.

Due to funding constraints and restrictions caused by COVID-19, sustainable returns of Somali refugees was a significant gap. To make returns more sustainable, further investment in the restoration of basic public infrastructure is needed. Nevertheless, most Somali refugee returnees, 93% of those interviewed by UNHCR, indicated that they were satisfied with their decision to return.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

With the unearmarked funding received, UNHCR implemented the Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN) in most districts of Somalia. Protection monitoring and incident reporting through the PRMN remains a key protection tool implemented across Somalia through a network of local NGOs. Humanitarian actors in Somalia also relied heavily on the PRMN to design response actions to displacement and other protection incidents.

In addition, the biometric registration exercise for all the refugees and asylum-seekers in Somalia was only made possible through the use of unearmarked funding. The registration process that was undertaken for the first time in Somalia, successfully validated 24,464 refugees and asylum-seekers.

The Office’s emergency response to COVID-19, floods and droughts was also possible due to availability of flexible funding.

Working environment

Despite improvements in the overall situation in Somalia, instability and security risks continue to affect UNHCR’s operation and limit access to people of concern. With the federal election planned for 2020 as well as the withdrawal of AMISOM troops, the political and security environment may also be impacted. Recurrent droughts will continue to challenge communities.  
Amendments to various legal frameworks including the 1962 Citizenship Law, the IDP Policy, and the Refugee Act, could pose potential protection risks for people of concern in 2020.
Relations between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States remain precarious, particularly in Jubaland State where recent parliamentary and presidential elections were undertaken without political consensus.
In 2020, UNHCR will provide protection and assistance to over 41,000 refugees and asylum-seekers mainly from Ethiopia and Yemen; some 108,000 Somali refugee returnees, including 17,000 people expected to return to Somalia in 2020; and some 400,000 IDPs.
The Government of Somalia will provide land for refugees hosted in the country as well as for identified vulnerable returnees for whom UNHCR will construct permanent shelters.
As lead of the Protection Cluster at national and regional levels, UNHCR will coordinate the protection response for IDPs.  UNHCR will continue to support the Humanitarian Country Team’s Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, as co-chair with IOM.
UNHCR also leads the NFI/Shelter Cluster and co-leads the CCCM Cluster thus ensuring coordination on shelter and camp management for IDPs.
To advance the principles of the Global Compact on Refugees, UNHCR will continue to advocate with government counterparts for the inclusion of refugees in the implementation of the national development plan and other government initiatives. UNHCR will also continue to enhance its partnership with the UN-Integrated Peacekeeping Mission (UNSOM/UNSOS).

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will:
  • Improve reception conditions for refugees and ensure individuals are registered in ProGres using the biometric identity management system;
  • Strengthen prevention of and response to SGBV through the provision of medical, legal and psychosocial assistance to survivors via referrals with relevant service providers;
  • Ensure that the basic needs of refugees are met through provision of shelter and domestic items and that they have access to basic services, such as education and health;
  • Ensure Somali refugees opting to return back to Somalia are supported to do so in safety and dignity through provision of return packages;
  • In line with the Nairobi Declaration, work with the Government and partners to facilitate sustainable reintegration of returnees through area-based protection, support with livelihoods and access to basic services;
  • Contribute to the inter-agency response for IDPs by leading the protection, shelter, NFI and CCCM clusters;
  • Advocate for the integration of the HCT’s Centrality of Protection Strategy in all humanitarian interventions, including via the Protection Cluster and other in-country Clusters.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

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