The Federal Government of Somalia and UNHCR mark World Refugee Day for the first time in Mogadishu

26 Jun 2014

The Federal Government of Somalia and UNHCR mark World Refugee Day for the first time in Mogadishu

Mogadishu - The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) officially marked World Refugee Day for the first time in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, with an award ceremony for the Essay, Poetry & Art Competition launched by UNHCR Somalia under the theme ‘My Somalia’.

The competition was open to Somali artists and writers living in displacement in and around Somalia, encouraging them to express through written and visual artworks what ‘My Somalia’ represents to them.

World Refugee Day is marked every year on 20 June since 2001, in recognition of the resilience and plight of forcibly displaced people throughout the world. The Essay, Poetry & Art Competition was launched by UNHCR Somalia to commend the strength, courage and resourcefulness of the more than one million Somalis living as refugees in the region. An additional estimated 1.1 million people displaced within Somalia.

In her opening speech, UNHCR Somalia Representative Alessandra Morelli thanked the representatives of the Federal Government of Somalia, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Ridwan Haji Mohamed, and Foreign Minister Abdirahman Duale Bayle, for their participation and commitment to standby and support people in need in Somalia.

“I am honored to welcome you to the commemoration of World Refugee Day for the first time in Mogadishu,” Alessandra Morelli said. “This shows how UNHCR is working alongside all of you to create conditions that are conducive to solutions and to overcome the obstacles that are preventing Somali people to dream, to hope, and to exercise their right to return home.”

“I wish to emphasize the need for us to stand united, and our obligation to do all that we can to protect the dream of the one million Somali refugees in the Horn of Africa and Yemen, and those living in displacement within Somalia, to return home,” she added.

Alessandra Morelli further urged the Federal Government to adopt the national policy framework on internal displacement in Somalia. This is a vital measure to ensure that the human rights of internally displaced are protected, including their right to a solution to their displacement.

The ceremony was also attended by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, who commended the cooperation between UNHCR and the Federal Government of Somalia, and the progress made in reaching out to the people of concern.

“2014 is a year of action and service delivery, and the fact that head of UNHCR is present in Somalia with her team supporting the Somali authorities in dealing with the refugees and IDPs shows that the UN Country Team is committed to working on the ground for a better Somalia,” he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia underscored the Government’s commitment to ensure that refugees returning to Somalia are able to rebuild their lives in a safe and secure environment.

“We welcome all the returnees to their motherland and we are committed to stand with the international community to make Somalia safe for our people to return,” he said.

Said Mohamud Isse, 23, one of the winners of the UNHCR competition, shared his journey, narrating how his family fled to Ethiopia in 1990, and through the kindness of local teachers, was able to attend primary school. His family later went to Dadaab in northern Kenya, and he went on to study Mass Communication in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. He recently left Kenya in fear of a recent crackdown in the country aimed at addressing deteriorating security.

Besides the essay written by Said Mohamud Isse, UNHCR received a variety of artwork, poems and essays from Somalis in Yemen, Ethiopia, Kenya as well as Somalia. The winning contributions will be published by UNHCR.