Somalia + 2 more

Durable Solutions: Perspectives of Somali Refugees Living in Kenyan and Ethiopian Camps and Selected Communities of Return

Originally published
© Alexandra Strand Holm/Danish Refugee Council


DRC / NRC: Durable Solutions – Somali refugee perspectives

More than a quarter of the Somali population have fled their country since civil war broke out in 1991. Millions remain in displacement in the region. What are their perspectives on the future? Do they believe in eventual return to Somalia? These are among the themes explored in the report ‘Durable Solutions’.

Civil war and armed conflict in Somalia has caused large-scale internal and external displacement. More than every fourth Somali is today living in displacement - the majority has moved to a safer area within the country, but large numbers have fled to another country.

A significant number of Somali refugees have been living in Kenyan and Ethiopian camps for up to two decades and new generations of Somalis are born in displacement. According to UNHCR more than 1.1 million people are displaced within Somalia and more than 1 million, mostly from South Central Somalia has claimed asylum in another country.

The report ‘Durable Solutions - Perspectives of Somali Refugees in Kenyan and Ethiopian Camps and Selected Communities of Return’ explores the different scenarios facing Somali refugees living in displacement: Repatriation, local integration and resettlement.

Findings in this research point to a fairly significant proportion of refugees in camps who would consider returning to Somalia when conditions become conducive for a safe and sustainable repatriation. A significant minority, on the other hand, have been in exile for decades and have limited repatriation prospects, even if conditions for return improve, calling for creative use of other durable solutions as well..

Access to land and restoration of livelihoods will present a significant challenge, a sensitive issue which remains crucial to address, not least in the light of a majority of potential returnees relying on farming and agro-pastoralism as their traditional livelihood and income opportunity. In the absence of access to land, sustainable livelihoods are limited which eventually will affect returns and reintegration.

The report aims to provide constructive input to the debate and effort by governments and aid agencies in preparing Somali refugees for durable solutions once conditions allow for this. ‘Durable Solutions’ looks back at return programmes in the region with the objective of drawing lessons for future interventions. While providing perspectives from Somali refugees in neighbouring countries on durable solutions, it also explores the perspectives of and views among possible return communities in Somalia.

The research at hand demonstrates that smaller and incremental population movements, coupled with assistance and monitoring of returnees can help make return and reintegration sustainable. It also highlights the importance of viewing repatriation as more than simply a logistical movement of people, but rather an integrated part of wider development and peace building projects. The ‘Durable Solutions’ report finally underlines that strengthening the resilience and building the capacities among refugees while in displacement will enhance their prospects of return and reintegration and ability to contribute more substantially to the reconstruction of Somalia .

For more information, please contact Danish Refugee Council's Regional Information and Communications Adviser Alexandra Strand Holm on