Mohammed Abdi Affey’s role as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Special Envoy on the Somali Refugee Situation was specially created 11 months ago to address the refugee crisis.
He said the High Commissioner felt it prudent to have a special envoy who would work to refocus attention to the displaced Somali population that require continued protection, attention and support.
“The position was created because there was a feeling that now a role like this one will generate interest,” he said. “We didn’t expect the world to forget but the world forgot. We have to get this matter on the international radar.”
The UN member states decided on a new approach towards the protection of refugees through the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.
“This is an attempt to not only help the refugees but also to the host countries,” he said. “The country needs more time before it can be out of the woods – we are not in a position today to say that Somalia can receive back all its population because the conditions inside the country aren’t safe nor stable to allow massive return but we can prepare this population for eventual return by giving them a dignified stay in the camps.”
Last March, the leaders of host countries met in Nairobi, Kenya, where they agreed on a roadmap and plan called the Nairobi Declaration.
“It’s a plan of action towards finding a durable solution to the Somali refugee crisis. I’m very happy for their long hospitality because even they are struggling with their local populations but now they’ve taken the extra burden and responsibility to host Somali refugees for 27 years and continue to provide the generous support to them until such a time that Somalis can go back home to live in peace and dignity.”
Mr Affey said such countries had shown a strong commitment to the cause. “I’m hoping the UAE will contribute to that Declaration and that my mission will generate interest to find a space to support them.”
UN Envoy on Somalia brings with him regional experience
In September last year, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, announced the appointment of Mohammed Abdi Affey as his Special Envoy on the Somali Refugee Situation. He said that the path towards stability and prosperity in Somalia must include solutions for Somalis in exile through the region and that the Special Envoy would assist the UNHCR to maximise efforts in the search for solutions for Somali refugees and asylum seekers at national and regional levels.
Mr Affey brings with him extensive regional experience, having most recently served as the Special Envoy to Somalia for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Previously, he held senior positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, serving as Kenya’s Deputy Minister and later as Kenya’s Ambassador to Somalia.
From March 2008 to February 2013, as a Member of Parliament in the Kenya National Assembly, Mr Affey moved several assembly resolutions supporting the stabilisation of Somalia by the African Union at the African, Caribbean, Pacific/European Union joint parliamentary assembly. In 2007, he was awarded the Moran of Burning Spear (MBS) by the president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki.
Born in 1968 in Kenya, Mr Affey graduated from the University of Nairobi in 2010 with a master’s degree in International Relations and a major in International Conflict Management.