Home > Resources > Monthly Updates > May 2010 > New Guidelines for Somali Refugees and Asylum Seekers 

New guidelines aim to strengthen protection for Somali refugees and asylum seekers

UNHCR has issued new guidelines aimed at promoting a stronger and more consistent approach to the protection needs of civilians fleeing Somalia. These guidelines encourage governments to assess applications for refugee status from persons from central and southern Somalia in the broadest possible way, and to extend complementary forms of international protection, where refugee status is not granted UNHCR reported.

It is UNHCR's view that asylum seekers from central and southern Somalia are in need of international protection. Those who do not meet the criteria for refugee status under the 1951 Convention or the OAU Convention should benefit from complementary forms of international protection, as applicable in situations of generalised violence or armed conflict.

Although most asylum countries will examine claims on an individual basis, UNHCR encourages countries facing large numbers of arrivals to grant protection to people from southern and central Somalia on a group basis. This is the case in neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Yemen.

Over recent months, UNHCR has made clear its alarm at the worsening security and humanitarian situation in Somalia. Conditions there have been steadily deteriorating for some time and are particularly acute in the central and southern areas of the country. UNHCR and other organisations providing aid face great difficulties in reaching the needy.

We continue to see high levels of displacement internally as well as to neighbouring countries and further afield.  There are an estimated 1.4 million displaced people within Somalia and approximately 575,000 Somali refugees in neighbouring countries. Last year, Somalis were the third-largest group of asylum applicants in the industrialised world, with more than 22,000 claims.

Return to May Update