Returns to Somalia: Setting Protection and Livelihood Standards

13873005_1047552921958862_4298145718295903192_n1. ASSESSING RETURNS TO SOMALIA

Returns to (post-)conflict and fragile settings, from Afghanistan to Somalia, are increasing. The literature is clear on the return challenges to such contexts, and the diverse array of expectations of (re-)integration that differ depending on age, gender, timing and duration of exile, and conditions in exile. What this report measures is therefore not the impact of a program, as the overall context includes this complex backdrop of hopes and dreams, caught by reality and ultimately, by unplanned outcomes. Assisted voluntary return and reintegration (AVRR) programmes are a compromise that returnees turn to, and agree to, when other recourses have not been successful. This is where this programme intervenes: assisting returns when returns become, by circumstances, the most realistic option for migrants, and one that should be handled with sufficient care, protection and dignity for those who return. There are responsibilities to be upheld, by states and by organisations mandated to assist returns.

The methodology outlined in the coming pages is based on the beneficiaries’ perspective, but also that of their families, relatives, friends, and also neighbours, non-migrants, who are part of their communities of return. It is not a negative feedback but a realistic feedback, at times also one that is confused, angry and confrontational. These voices should not be disregarded but listened to. They all tell us something that can improve the way states, organisations and individuals approach and organise returns.

This report looks at a small population but a representative sample – 7 returnees assisted by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in 2014-2015 to return from Norway to Somalia – and an equally diverse set of migration projects. Some were displaced internally first, effectively internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing conflict, before resorting to migration abroad. Others travelled with relatives, some alone, and their ages ranged from 60 to 30 years of age, mostly male but including one returnee woman as well, from various parts and journeys in Somalia.

None of them knew each other, and few of them are in touch in Somalia. The lack of ties between returnees is a gap this report can address, among other existing gaps. The fact that returnees do not have a role in the programme can be reversed, they can be reinforced as actors and agencies, as facilitators of return and reintegration. Half of them showed a willingness to be considered as such, the other half would welcome support from their peers, even when they reject the support of institutional stakeholders.

A one-size-fits-all approach to returns has been vastly questioned in the literature. It is not needed and in this particular case of returns to Somalia, given the sheer limits on voluntary returns, it is possible to adopt a more tailored approach. DRC is the right interlocutor for this, and has the right partners on board, from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to the private sectors. This report gives specific recommendations of who the private sector actors are, and how they can be relied on.

The full report questions semantics – such as calling reintegration packages business start-up opportunities – with the aim of improving a tailored programming that takes into account individual cases and structural constraints. The reality of the labour markets is far more complex, and the need for skills more pronounced. Having the right words to plan programs will ensure that expectations can be better aligned. Having the right monitoring and evaluation framework will, in turn, ensure that responsibilities are aligned.

Source: Reliefweb


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