Mogadishu – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcomes the launch on Saturday (June 3) of a project that will lead to the development of Somalia’s National Diaspora Policy, a significant step towards the sustainable development of the country.
Through this new policy, the Department of Diaspora Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation will intensify its efforts to unify and mobilize Somali diaspora networks for a stronger and more resilient Somalia.
In the coming months, the Department of Diaspora Affairs in close coordination with the multi-sectoral committee will undertake consultations with government and non-government stakeholders to ensure that a participatory, inclusive and coherent policy is developed. IOM will provide technical support throughout the development process thanks to funding from IOM’s Development Fund (IDF).
The policy will be the first diaspora engagement framework in the country that acknowledges the potential of the Somali diaspora to contribute to the country's socio-economic development.
“At the heart of today’s ceremony is migration and its contribution to economic growth and social development,” said Richard Danziger, IOM Somalia Chief of Mission during the launch in Mogadishu. “The multiple roles of diaspora draw increasing recognition not only as senders of remittances but also as investors, innovators, and developers of human capital.”
After the fall of Somalia’s central government in 1990, thousands of people fled the country in search of safety overseas. Nowadays, it is estimated that some 2 million Somalis continue to live abroad. Most of them remain deeply connected to their homeland and play a significant role in its development through remittances, investments, and skills transfer.
“Diaspora communities have played a key role in mobilizing resources to enable Somalia to respond to recurrent natural disasters and provide life-saving assistance, as well as support households’ resilience”, said the State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Balal Mohamed Cusman.
The financial support that diaspora groups send back home is crucial for thousands of families who depend on them to access food, health care, education, and other basic needs. According to the Department of Diaspora Affairs, “without their contributions, the country would have collapsed during and after the civil war.”
In 2019, the remittance flows to Somalia were estimated at USD 2 billion, outpacing international aid flows and foreign direct investment. The new policy is taking place against the backdrop of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) which reaffirms the sovereignty that states have over their migration-related policies. Somalia is on the path towards achieving objective 19 of the GCM: create conditions for migrants and diaspora to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries.
Moreover, it is in line with the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals which recognizes that migration is a powerful driver for sustainable development, and it brings significant benefits for countries of origins such as skills, investments, cultural diversity and improving the lives of communities of origin.
“We have to also remember the importance of Somalis who remain here and did not have the opportunity to go abroad. Strengthening the skills of the youth will remain a priority for IOM diaspora related programmes,” added Danziger.
Since 2009, IOM has facilitated the short-term return of over 500 Somali diaspora professionals through its Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA). The programme deploys diaspora experts at state institutions where their expertise across various fields contributes to boosting institutional capacity. These experts do not only bring their skills back home but also transfer their knowledge to young local professionals through a mentorship programme.
The contributions of the Somali diaspora are an example of how migration could make an important contribution to development. IOM will continue to support the Federal Government of Somalia to promote diaspora engagement and achieving sustainable development.