Millions of Somali refugees hosted in different countries pose one of the greatest challenge in the wake of the swelling numbers of refugees in the world.
It is estimated that more than 65 million people have been forced off from their homes, a number larger than what has ever been witnessed since World War II, with Somalia being ranked third as the source of these refugees after Syria and Afghanistan.
Resettlement of refugees is a real challenge for Somalia: The war left a trail of humanitarian disruptions that was already triggered by the erratic weather and budding poverty in some areas. With these comes refugees and returnees.
Health, sanitation , food, housing , education , clean water, socialization and integration into the community as well as finding economic footage in a ‘new’ home are some of the pressing needs returnees have when they arrive back home.
To assist in countering some of these challenges, ARC International, a non-governmental organization based in Minneapolis and works around the globe has set up programmes in Somalia.
Speaking to The Somalia Investor Magazine, ARC administrative coordinator at the Nairobi support office, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said the programme which has been active in Somalia is committed to a holistic approach in taking care of the returnees as they leave one of Kenya’s largest refugee camps, Daadab.
“We look at refugees as people who need an all-round support from economics, social to material support and that is why our intervention stretch from rebuilding health, water supply, protection, shelter, and economic systems in Somalia. We want to see the returning citizens fully integrated into the system despite the new challenges they are likely to face in their return,” Mr Mohamed said.
The NGO has since 2011, been working with partners inside and outside Somalia and has paid special attention towards socializing the youth in their re-integration plans since they make up a large percentage of the population [over 70%] and who are often targeted by armed groups for recruitment.
“We give a lot of emphasis on social support for the youth because returning has its challenges especially when the host community views them as additional burden in the already scarce facilities and resources. We have set aside socialization measures including sports, and cultural activities to promote their mingling with the host community,” notes Ms. Rehan Abdirashid Dubow, a programme officer at ARC. Additionally, ARC has set up a returnee support center in Kismayo. Currently, the RYRSC provides ; free internet services; daily Roster and database; Information on job opportunities and job placement services; general orientation on social and administrative structures of local government; cultural and traditional space; conference room; youth Library and cafeteria.
At the moment ARC targets to generate 50,000 jobs for Somalis through collaboration with private sector, Humanitarian and development partners in creating access to microfinance to the youth to enable them start their own business.
In 2011, ARC responded to the famine in Somalia using a unique approach tapping into the vast global Somali Diaspora. The initiative labelled I Am a Star, launched a worldwide collaborative effort to help Somalis living everywhere in the world connect to and help communities in their home country. ARC continues to provide this platform, empowering Somalis to work together to make change.
Close to half a million people are assisted annually under the Somalia programme.