UN Authority Figures

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Executive Committee: Somalia

Simon Maina/AFP
Somali refugees fleeing violence. (The Guardian, August 29, 2008)

Mission of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees: "UNHCR is mandated by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems. UNHCR's primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. In its efforts to achieve this objective, UNHCR strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, and to return home voluntarily." (UNHCR Website, "Mission Statement")

Somalia's Term of office: 1988-

Somalia's Record on the Treatment of Refugees:
"The 1990 constitution and TFC [Transitional Federal Charter] do not include provisions for granting asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and there was no official system for providing such protection...The UNHCR reported approximately 9,600 refugees and asylum seekers in northern Somalia; other estimates were as high as 1.5 million displaced due to conflict, food shortages, and inflation, which made it impossible to purchase rations...[M]ore than 31,375 Somalis attempted to cross illegally from Somaliland and Puntland, and Djibouti to Yemen during the year, resulting in at least 328 confirmed deaths and another 359 missing and presumed dead...[A]n estimated 60,000 asylum seekers made their way to the already overcrowded Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya through the porous border during the year...[M]ore than 80,000 Somalis sought refuge in neighboring countries. There continued to be reports that Somali women, girls, and in isolated cases men, were raped in refugee camps in Kenya during the year." (US State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2008, Somalia)