IGAD agree to facilitate voluntary return of Somali refugees


The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has resolved to facilitate the voluntary return of Somali refugees in safety and dignity by addressing the root causes of displacement.

In a communiqué issued at the end of an IGAD special summit on durable solutions for Somali refugees hosted in Nairobi by President Uhuru Kenyatta in his capacity as the regional body’s rapporteur, the IGAD leaders agreed to support the strengthening of security and stability in Somalia.

They cited enhancing the discharge of the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and reinforcing the capacity of the National Security Forces of Somalia as key components of boosting security and stability in the Horn of Africa nation.

The IGAD regional leaders also agreed to bolster the protection of refugees and respond effectively to the drought in the region to prevent new forced displacement.

Other recommendations of the summit included the strengthening of the capacity of countries in the region to contribute to the protection and provision of assistance to Somali refugees, continue enhancing security within refugee camps and out-of-camp refugee population, and ensure the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements.

They called on IGAD member states to align domestic laws and policies, including civil documentation, in line with refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention obligation to enable refugees to access gainful employment and self-reliance.

On regional efforts towards durable solutions, the IGAD special summit decided to: “strengthen regional co-operation on durable solutions for Somali refugees through the creation of an IGAD Multi-Donor Trust Fund designed to support and facilitate the creation of an enabling environment and the rolling out of durable solutions including safe, sustainable and voluntary return of refuges.”

Presidents Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Somalia) Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) and Sudan Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdulrahman attended the summit chaired by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the Chairman of IGAD.

Earlier, President Kenyatta separately held talks with Prime Minister Desalegn, Presidents Museveni, Mohamed and Kiir, and the new African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat on the sidelines of the IGAD special summit on durable solutions for Somali refugees.