The right to work is a human right guaranteed under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Every asylum-seeker, refugee, Somali returnee and internally displaced Somali has the right to work. The right to work contributes to the survival of the individual, but more than that, it allows individuals to live with dignity.
In recent years almost 130,000 Somalis have returned home while 35,000 asylum-seekers and refugees have sought international protection in Somalia as the country recovers after almost three decades of conflicts and droughts. Today, over 2.6 million Somalis are still displaced within the country—making Somalia the fourth largest country in the world in terms of the internally displaced population (IDP).
Despite the progress, including advancements to the economic realm through a vibrant private sector and a growing market infrastructure, many challenges remain. Most of the cities and returnee areas as well as the IDP settlements offer limited employment opportunity, lack of market support services and productive assets, which hinders the individual’s ability to achieve self-reliance, sustainability and re-integration. Other challenges for livelihoods include clan sensitivity, discrimination, harassment of asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees and limited opportunities for long-term funding.
Despite many challenges, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, continues supporting Somalia towards the realization of the right to work of refugees, asylum-seekers, returnees and internally displaced Somalis in safe and secure environment mainly by building skills—through vocational and entrepreneurial training— provision of start-up capital and facilitating linkages to apprenticeships and micro-finance. Livelihoods programming in Somalia aims to contribute to individual’s self-reliance.
Going forward, UNHCR in Somalia will strengthen Public Private Partnerships (PPP) with private construction, restaurants, tailoring companies to provide placement and apprenticeship opportunities for graduates of vocational skills training with government support in addition to exploring Value Chain Development (VCD), for key products and staples such as milk, fish, honey, and beef. VCD aims at strengthening participation and inclusion of persons in key market sectors. It involves a series of steps including sector selection, market systems analysis, design, implementation, monitoring and results measurement.