NRC has been active in Somalia since 2004, providing protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons.
Humanitarian and political context:
Updated February 2014
The complex dynamics of conflict and clan related insecurity in Somalia continues to drive displacement, disrupt livelihoods and create emergency needs. Drought as a result of poor rains, has also contributed to displacement. The estimated number of internally displaced people in Somalia now stands at 1.1 million, and an additional 1 million Somalis remain displaced in the Horn of Africa region. UNOCHA December 2013 report indicates that 870,000 people are in crisis and emergency phases and are unable to meet their basic food needs without assistance. Internally displaced people are among the most vulnerable.
The security situation in Somalia in general remains volatile and unpredictable with sporadic incidences of military attacks and armed conflicts being reported in various regions. In South Central Somalia, violent elements continue to cause unrest. Most recently, a double-bomb attack on 2 January targeted the Jazeera Palace Hotel in Mogadishu killing at least 11 people. In Puntland, Parliament narrowly elected former Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali as President of Puntland in a peaceful election on 8 January 2014. In Somaliland the security situation is stable for most parts of the State.
A tropical storm made landfall on the coastal areas of Puntland on 10 December causing widespread damage. The Puntland authorities subsequently declared a state of emergency on 11 December. The worst affected areas were Bandarbayla, Dangoroyo and Eyl. FAO figures suggest that the storms affected approximately 5,000 households and an estimated 270,000 livestock were destroyed. In South Central, seasonal rains that began in September and continued into October and early November led to flooding in Jowhar and Balcad districts in Middle Shabelle region, leading to the displacement of at least 66,000 people. Assistance from the Puntland authorities and humanitarian actors continues to communities in the most affected areas.
On 10 November 2013 UNHCR, the Government of Kenya and the Federal Government of Somalia signed a Tripartite Agreement to facilitate the voluntary return of Somali refugees from Kenya. The return dialogue is currently dominating the discourse on South Central Somalia and will continue to do so in the coming months, as UNHCR and humanitarian partners prepare for increased cross border movements. A joint understanding exists that the current context in Somalia does not present a conducive environment for mass return and careful and consistent monitoring of the safety situation and livelihood opportunities are required. Finding durable solutions that safeguard the global principle of non-refoulement while ensuring a conducive return environment is essential.
NRC priorities for 2014 and beyond
NRC’s immediate priority in Somalia remains timely response to the needs of communities affected by displacement, due to insecurity and other causes, in order to respect the rights, protect, save lives and increase the resiliency of affected populations. Prioritized activities focus on shelter and infrastructure construction; housing, land and property issues; water, hygiene and sanitation; emergency education including youth education; protection; food security and livelihoods. Programmes target both emergency responses to acute crises as well as the capacity to address recurring protection needs of refugee or IDP populations through durable solutions. NRC will continue to work on emergency solutions for people who have recently been displaced, as well as provide durable solutions to those who have been displaced for many years (in particular in the IDP settlements of Puntland and Somaliland). In 2014 in particular, NRC will focus efforts on supporting the return movements of Somali refugees to South and Central Somalia. NRC will continue to strengthen its emergency preparedness and response capacity, its Monitoring and Evaluation systems and continue to diversify its coverage in the region. In this connection NRC is now engaged in humanitarian assistance to refugees in Djibouti. Where the situation allows, NRC in collaboration with other actors, will be involved in the voluntary return and re-settlement of IDP and refugees. NRC will, therefore, be making appropriate preparations to address the new challenges in the return process.
NRC core activities in Somalia
Food distribution: For the first time in five years, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance reduced from over 1 million to 870,000 reflecting modest gains in food security in 2013. However, more needs to be done to continue and consolidate gains. Much of the progress remains fragile and is vulnerable to shocks related to climate, conflict and economy. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) has warned that food security in parts of Somalia is likely to deteriorate in the coming months due to recent climatic shocks, resulting in a below average harvest, particularly in southern regions of the country. In 2014, NRC will focus its food security assistance along three main strategies: 1. Improvement of food and non-food items access using Conditional and Unconditional Cash Transfers, and awareness of good nutrition practices; 2. Support to farm and non-farm based livelihoods with capacity building on alternative livelihood opportunities and; 3. Support to environmental conservation.
Shelter: Lack of appropriate shelter and necessary Non Food Items (NFI) is a major concern for displaced populations living in IDP camps in Somalia. To address the critical need, NRC provides temporary, semi-permanent or permanent shelters depending on the particular area and context. Before the shelters are constructed, discussions are held with the communities, local leadership and other stakeholders to have a common understanding and agreement. NRC has experimented on a number of shelter models over the years in order to provide beneficiaries with the best solution to their particular protection concerns. Land ownership and tenure issues remain fundamental challenges to the construction of permanent shelters; NRC has been exploring and piloting a number of options to ensure durable solutions for IDPs. In 2014, NRC will continue to improve the living conditions of IDPs and Refugees throughout Somalia by providing assistance to persons who have been forced to flee throughout all phases of displacement, from the onset of a disaster to realization of durable solutions. To the extent possible, assistance will be provided to the newly displaced, those in protracted displacement situations, locally integrating and returning populations with appropriate shelter solutions. This includes timely provision of emergency assistance packages and emergency shelters to newly displaced. Settlement planning and climatically appropriate transitional shelter for protracted displacement along with replenishing NFI’s. Then for durable solutions, NRC will work to ensure access to secure, relevant shelters that facilitate platforms for start, resumption and expansion of sustainable livelihoods. NRC will ensure appropriate shelter components in the proposed return or integration packages.
ICLA: Lack of access to land and insecurity of tenure are major obstacles to a durable solution in Somalia. In urban areas evictions are common and likely to increase as the security situation stabilizes, urbanization continues and foreign and domestic investment increases. The value of land has already increased considerably in urban areas and this trend is likely to continue, resulting in sustained land grabbing and augmented barriers for the vulnerable to access land. In response to this, NRC started up its fifth core competency in Somalia in 2013, Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA), focusing on addressing housing, land and property (HLP) issues faced by the vulnerable and displaced. People involved in decision making related to these issues, such as government officials, landowners, elders and IDP committee members, were targeted with capacity building on HLP-related rights. Moreover, communities affected by displacement were targeted with information activities and vulnerable IDPs received counselling on their specific HLP issues. In 2014, NRC plans to promote the security of tenure through tenure documentation and advocacy and to conduct research on women’s access to HLP rights, causes of land disputes and general mapping of Housing Land and Property issues in the Somalia context.
Water and Sanitation: Water and sanitation continues to pose a great challenge to displaced communities within Somalia. NRC’s strategy in Somalia is to protect those affected by displacement from the health risks associated with unsafe and inadequate water, unsafe disposal of human waste and to transfer knowledge on the causes and prevention of communicable diseases like cholera and diarrhoea. In addition, to providing shelter to the displaced and vulnerable communities, NRC also provides household and community latrines, installs and rehabilitates water systems and undertakes sanitation and hygiene promotion activities within the settlements.
Education: Through the Alternative Basic Education program (ABE), NRC provides out-of-school children with an accelerated curriculum with the aim of transitioning pupils into the formal school system. For youth who are too old to reintegrate the formal school system, NRC implements the Youth Education Pack program (YEP) which provides learners with literacy, numeracy, life skills and basic vocational skills and support towards the setting up of own businesses and cooperatives. NRC also trains teachers in and supports learning by providing safe learning environments through the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms. At the core of the delivery of a sustainable education sector in Somlia, is a funtional ministry. In support of the Ministry of Human Development and Public Service and its Go-to-School iniative to enrol 1 million out of school children to school, NRC has seconded highly skilled technical advisors to the Ministry of Human Development and Public Service to ensure transfer of knowledge for a sustained long-term capacity enhacement of the Ministry itself.
Protection: Internally displaced people are very vulnerable to abuse and often see their rights denied. In Somalia, NRC has been working in partnership with UNHCR on the Protection Monitoring Network and Population Movement Tracking project to sensitize the IDPs, communities, authorities and other stakeholders on the rights of IDPs. In this project, NRC is working with selected local partners in the three regions to collect protection and displacement information for planning and advocacy purposes. NRC aims at further strengthening its capacity to generate better information on protection needs of long term displaced persons and returnees. Additionally, NRC will seek to prevent abuse and protect IDPs and returnees’ rights by mainstreaming protection concerns in its programming.