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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09NAIROBI873 2009-05-05 10:55:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Nairobi
Cable title:  

SOMALIA - IDPs RETURNING TO MOGADISHU

Tags:   EAID PHUM PREL PREF SO 
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VZCZCXRO6295
OO RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #0873/01 1251055
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051055Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9400
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 5471
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4612
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RUZEFAA/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 NAIROBI 000873 

SIPDIS

AIDAC

DEPT FOR AF/E AND ACTING A/S CARTER
USAID FOR DAA/DCHA EKVITASHVILI AND JBRAUSE
USAID/AFR/EA FOR CTHOMPSON AND JCICCARONE
DCHA/OFDA FOR KCHANNELL, KDISSELKOEN AND ACONVERY
DCHA/FFP FOR JBORNS, JDWORKEN, SANTHONY, CMUTAMBA, AND PMOHAN
USUN FOR DMERCADO AND HSPANOS
ROME FOR FODAG
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
BRUSSELS FOR USEU PLERNER; USAID PBROWN
NSC FOR CPRATT AND MGAVIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL PREF SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - IDPs RETURNING TO MOGADISHU

-------
SUMMARY
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1) According to the United Nations, more than 61,000 internally
displaced persons (IDPs) have returned to Mogadishu in 2009. The UN
has identified a number of push and pull factors influencing
returns. Due to ongoing violence, displacement from and within
Mogadishu continues. A U.N.-led task force has been formed to
develop "principled positions" regarding the return of IDPs to
Mogadishu including the premise that return should be voluntary.
The task force is not encouraging the facilitation of massive and
organized IDP returns to Mogadishu at this time and recommends
support for service provision in Mogadishu. Once the security and
protection situation in Mogadishu has improved and stabilized,
voluntary IDP returns would be encouraged and facilitated. USAID's
Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Office of Food for
Peace (FFP) are working with their implementing partners for
expanded assistance to facilitate IDP returns.



--------------------------


END SUMMARY


--------------------------





2. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), more than 61,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have
returned to Somalia's capital city Mogadishu since early January


2009. The majority of these returnees are among the estimated one
million persons displaced from Mogadishu since the eruption of
hostilities between the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), local warlords
and Ethiopian forces in January 2007.



3. IDPs who fled Mogadishu over the past two years migrated to
regions throughout the country with the largest concentration,
nearly 650,000, residing in camps amongst host communities in Lower
and Middle Shabelle Regions. Other regions hosting large numbers of
IDPs include Lower Juba, Bay and Bakool regions in south Somalia;
Hiran, Galgadud and Mudug regions in central Somalia and Bari Region
in Puntland.



4. The largest groups of returnees to Mogadishu are coming from
Lower and Middle Shabelle Regions as well as from central Somalia.
UNHCR notes an increase in flights to Mogadishu from Nairobi, Yemen,
Ethiopia, Somaliland and Saudi Arabia, reportedly carrying returnees.



--------------------------


PUSH AND PULL RETURN FACTORS


--------------------------





5. The withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from the country, as well
as the restructuring of the Transitional Federal Government (TGF)
and ongoing peace process are viewed by many IDPs as stabilizing
"pull" factors encouraging returns. "Push" factors have been
identified as insecurity and limited access to services and
livelihood options in places of displacement. The UN also notes the
ongoing drought in regions of central Somalia is also contributing
to the migration of IDPs back to Mogadishu. IDPs residing in the
Afgoye corridor just outside the city are able to conduct
look-and-see visits to Mogadishu and in many cases, families have
split, with women and children staying in Afgoye while men venture
back to Mogadishu in search of employment.



6. Factors which may be inhibiting a larger return include:
persistent insecurity in parts of Mogadishu, particularly in the
Hodan district, where African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
camps attract insurgents' attacks; unexploded ordinance and mines;
the presence of different militias opposing the government; looting;
the destruction of homes or squatters occupying homes; lack of
available social services; lack of employment and income
opportunities; and high transportation costs. UNHCR also
highlights the fact that steady provision of aid in places of

NAIROBI 00000873 002 OF 003


displacement may be keeping IDPs from migrating back to Mogadishu.



7. UNHCR reports about 250,000 long-term IDPs resided in Mogadishu
prior to January 2007. These IDPs were mostly from minority clans
who migrated to the city during the early 1990s and squatted in
abandoned government buildings, relying on casual labor
opportunities. Many of these old caseload IDPs lacked resources to
leave the city at the onset of unrest in 2007, resulting in
displacement within the city to safer districts.



8. Civil unrest continues in Mogadishu. During the past four
months, more than 20,000 persons were either displaced within or out
of the capital city. The UN estimates that about 11,000 were
displaced to other districts of Mogadishu while about 9,000 fled to
other parts of the country.



--------------------------


UN LED TASK FORCE FORMED


--------------------------





9. The inter-agency standing committee (IASC), a forum for
coordination, policy development and decision-making involving key
UN and non-UN humanitarian partners for Somalia has formed a task
force led by UNHCR, to formulate "principled positions" regarding
the return of IDPs to Mogadishu. The task force is proposing
policies for all stakeholders that are grounded in established
humanitarian principles.



10. The IASC task force has identified protection, security, and
political considerations that should be addressed by all
humanitarian assistance providers. These include the premise that
return should be voluntary. Reducing food and other assistance at
IDP sites can be seen as an unfavorable push factor and would affect
the voluntary nature of return.



11. The IASC recognizes the ongoing unstable and unpredictable
security situation in Mogadishu as well as the presence of
unexploded ordinance in civilian areas of the city. The committee
also notes that land and property disputes may arise in Mogadishu,
especially for IDPs who previously lived on public property. It is
the IASC recommendation that IDPs who lived in unused government
buildings prior to 2007 be allowed to return to such domiciles for a
reasonable period of time until alternative solutions can be
identified.



12. Another major consideration to be taken into account is the
paucity of a UN presence on the ground in Mogadishu; it currently
operates by remote control. International non-governmental
organizations (NGO) operational in the city are also in short
supply. Without a strong UN and NGO presence in the city,
monitoring systems are weak and availability of social services is
limited.



--------------------------


CONTINGENCY PLANS BEING FORMULATED


--------------------------





14. The IASC is not encouraging the facilitation of massive and
organized IDP returns to Mogadishu at this time. The current
situation in the city is not conducive to massive integration of
returnees.



15. The IASC is recommending that contingency plans for returns
should identify benchmarks and triggers to determine the various
phases of return in order to guide humanitarian agencies' engagement
with returnees. The IASC task force is recommending that assistance
programs focus on increasing assets available to returnee households
and is advocating cash grants and cash-for-work options to
reactivate the local economy.


NAIROBI 00000873 003 OF 003




15. At the same time the task force recommends support for service
provision in Mogadishu, targeting not just returnees but all persons
in need. Community-based organizations and national NGOs should be
strengthened to meet the service demands of returnees.



16. The IASC is encouraging support for immediate low-profile
humanitarian assistance programs to support IDPs who return
spontaneously while also assisting other vulnerable beneficiary
groups in Mogadishu. Once the security and protection situation in
Mogadishu has improved and stabilized, the IASC will then encourage
and facilitate voluntary IDP returns.



--------------------------


CONCLUSIONS


--------------------------





17. We recognize the delicate balance that is needed to maintain
assistance in displacement locations and scale up assistance on
return. USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) is
working with implementing partners to scale up livelihood programs
targeting Mogadishu returnees and residents. WFP, through support
from USAID's Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP), is planning to
transition from soup kitchens providing cooked meals to more than
80,000 persons daily to dry food distributions, supplementary
feeding for moderately malnourished, and food for work programs, as
security improves.



18. We commend the IASC for outlining policies and recommendations
for Mogadishu specific humanitarian assistance interventions for
returnees, and will encourage the UN to take a pro-active role in
contingency planning, identification of benchmarks and triggers
while at the same time re-establishing its presence in the city to
monitor and facilitate livelihood and service support programs.

RANNEBERGER