New IOM Director-General on First Trip to Somalia Amid Devastating Drought and Flood Crisis
Mogadishu - The new Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Amy E. Pope, has concluded her first visit to Somalia after taking over the leadership of the organization on October 1. During the visit, DG Pope met representatives from the Federal Government of Somalia, including, the President of Somalia, H.E Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abshir Omar Hurus, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Khadija Mohamed Al-Makhzoumi among other Ministers and senior officials. She also met key donors and partner organizations.
The visit focused on how IOM can continue to support the government to address the challenges caused by the recent drought, ongoing floods, and other climatic shocks. More than 2.3 million Somalis have been displaced in the country due to climate related hazards/disasters. Somalia has over 3.8 million IDPs - one of the highest internally displaced populations in the world.
IOM Somalia is currently deploying teams in the field and is getting ready to provide emergency assistance across the country and start rolling out its flood preparedness and mitigation response in the next few weeks.
DG Pope also discussed with the country’s leadership how to prevent further displacement, climate change adaptation, building resilient communities, and fostering sustainable and long-term solutions for vulnerable people Somalis.
“We need to proactively tackle forced migration that’s caused by environmental factors; to provide aid and protection to those displaced by climate adversities, and always be in search of durable solutions; and to streamline migration in the context of climate change adaptation, fortifying the resilience of affected communities,” said DG Pope.
Intercommunal violence and tension brought about by disputes over access to land and water for grazing accounts for nearly 40 per cent of all violent conflict in Somalia. DG Pope discussed how IOM can support government initiatives to respond, while looking at ways to establish more regular pathways for Somalis who want to migrate. Thousands of Somalis leave the country each year along the ‘Eastern Route’ that runs from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and to Gulf nations in search of better life working in the Gulf. But many face human rights violations, abuses and exploitation.
DG Pope made the reassurance that IOM will continue to deliver humanitarian assistance, while looking for solutions to broaden safe migration pathways aiming to prevent dangerous journeys that are leading to needless loss of life.The DG also held discussions about strategies to strengthen the role of the diaspora in the country, through the support of the organization, so that Somalia can realize the full benefits of well-managed migration governance.
“Migration has been a powerful socio-economic driver for Somalia. The Somali diaspora sends home an estimated $ 1.6 billion in remittances annually which accounts for 27.3 percent of the country’s economy, according to Africa Development Bank's Somalia Economic Outlook. Furthermore, the diaspora also invests in and strengthens the labour force,” said IOM Chief of Mission in Somalia, Frantz Celestin.
Since 2009, IOM has supported over 450 Somalia diaspora experts from 18 countries through The Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) to bring their knowledge and skills back to the country in healthcare, education, governance, resource management and other sectors.
"These professionals have greatly contributed to improved quality of services delivered to the people of Somalia and have helped build institutional capacity," said Celestin.
“Migration is positive, it fosters innovation, enriches aging communities, and bolsters labor supply. Overall, it has shown to positively impact individuals and communities alike. Embracing the benefits of migration can lead to progress and growth," expressed DG Pope.
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