27 February 2013

Somalia: Mogadishu Mayor Announces Plan to Relocate IDPs

The Mayor of Mogadishu, Mohamed Ahmed Nur Tarsan, has announced his government's plan to relocate thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) currently living in Mogadishu to "better places". He said those willing to go to their previous places they used to reside would be relocated to their previous locations, and those unwilling would be "relocated to camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu". According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are an estimated 369,000 IDPs or people living like IDPs in Mogadishu.

The recent plan has the assumption of relocating about 270,000 IDPs. The Mayor said the government's intention is "not to put these people in faraway isolated places" but to relocate them to "better places" as these people are currently living in "appalling conditions". He said "there are no security problems" in the new places. He noted that the plan would also decongest the city and help to ensure more security and sanitation in the city. The government would be "providing security as well as the land", and called up on aid agencies "to provide services like health and water" to those to be relocated, he added.

The head of the OCHA office in Somalia, Justin Brady, said the relocation plan "is not simply a shelter issue or a protection issue, but all of the service providers across the spectrum of clusters need to be involved". He said the necessary conditions should be fulfilled "prior to any relocation process" to ensure improvement in the security [or] protection of those people to be relocated, "especially the single-female [headed] households." He also noted that his office is looking at how the Somali government's plan "can be assisted by the partners" to make the move "as ethical and humane" as possible.

He said the Somali government's hope to carry out much of the relocation this year, by the 20th of August-a very symbolic date which marks the end of transition in Somalia, is a very ambitious timeline. The Somali government has also repeatedly expressed its willingness to welcome back refugees in neighboring countries in a very "coordinated manner" so that their return will help in rebuilding Somalia and without exposing refugees to dangerous conditions.

Somalia and Kenya have established Joint Cooperation Committee to find a satisfactory solution, and for the Somali government to "capitalize on recent security gains by establishing state institutions that can absorb the influx of refugees".

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