International donors have pledged $105 million for Somali refugee support, short of $500 million earlier sought by the refugee agency, UNHCR.
Donors at the Pledging Conference in Brussels also pledged to provide training and job opportunities in Somalia for 10,000 returnees.
The funds are dedicated to a plan of action designed to improve socio-economic conditions in Somalia and support refugees preparing for return from the Dadaab camps in Kenya.
The EU pledged about $60 million to support sustainable and durable re-integration of refugees and internally displaced persons in Somalia. Another $10 million will be channeled to north eastern Kenya to support Somali refugees in camps there and also host communities.
Somali Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Sharmake told the conference Somalia was undergoing positive changes but that the refugee issue was still a major concern to the country.
“After 25 years of feeling unable to come home, the positive changes in the country have given them hope. They want to return and help rebuild Somalia into a prosperous and successful nation. We are grateful for the support of the international community to help us achieve this,” said Sharmake.
EU High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said Somalia needed international help now than ever before as it transitions into a stable and peaceful nation.
“I am deeply grateful for the unwavering support by the international community, for the commitment by the host countries to continue to provide protection to Somali refugees and for the promise by others to step up their contributions to make returns safe and sustainable”.
More than 5,300 refugees have now returned to Somalia since December 2014, assisted by UNHCR and partners while a significant number of Somalis have returned spontaneously. Over 2 million Somalis remain displaced in the region, including some 1.1 million in their own country and 967,000 as refugees in the neighbouring countries. The majority (420,000) are living in Kenya, mostly in the five refugee camps in Dadaab in the north-east of the country. Nearly 250,000 Somali refugees live in Ethiopia, an estimated 240,000 in Yemen, while over 29,000 are in Uganda and nearly 12,000 in Djibouti.