Who is a refugee? Refugees are persons forced to flee their countries of origin because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.
How do I register my application for asylum?
Registering an application for asylum is an important obligation for an asylum seeker, as it forms the legal basis for your legal stay in Somalia and allows you to access public services and available assistance, moreover, it protects you against forced return to your country of origin.
Registration is conducted by the government counterpart in partnership with UNHCR. In case you wish to apply for asylum in Somalia, you should present yourself to the respective authorities depending on the location of registration:
➡ The National Commission for Refugees and IDPs (NCRI) is the responsible body at the Federal level, overseeing the registration process in the southern and central regions of Somalia:
- Address: Afgooye Street, Hodon, Mogadishu
- Contact: 61 535 7881
➡ In Somaliland, the registration is conducted by the National Displacement and Refugee Agency (NDRA):
- Address: 26 June District, Hargeisa
- Contact: 63 424 0009
➡ For Puntland, registration is conducted by the Human Protection Department of the Ministry of Interior, Federal Affair and Democratization (HPD-MoIFAD):
- Address: 21 August Village, behind Stadium, Garowe
- Contact: 303
The registration is recorded in UNHCR’s registration and case management database.
During the registration process, important information relating to you, your family members and relatives in Somalia and abroad will be collected. You will also be requested to answer questions about what made you leave your country and why you cannot return. Once you are registered with the authorities, UNHCR will collect your biometric data (fingerprints, iris scan) to complete your registration. Biometric registration is a crucial step in ensuring personal identities cannot be lost, registered multiple times or subject to fraud or identity theft.
Please make sure to bring the following documents as available when going for registration:
- All other available ID documents (National ID, military ID, driver’s licenses, other civil documentation)
- Marriage/divorce certificate(s)
- Birth/death certificate(s)
- Family booklets
- Proof of previous registration of asylum in other countries (if applicable).
If you do not possess any of those documents above, please do not resort to producing fraudulent ones. You can explain the reason for the lack of documents during the interview.
Once the registration is completed, you will be provided with documentation to enable you to stay in Somalia for the period between the registration and the decision on your application (if an individual asylum claim is lodged) and to gain access to services provided by the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Member States, UNHCR and its partners. Depending on the location where you register your application, the documents could include:
- Proof of Registration: issued at individual level after Registration confirming details of your registration
- Asylum Seeker Certificate: issued at individual level after Registration confirming details of your registration
Please always carry at least a copy of those documents with you, as it is an important identification document for protection against forced removal/return to your country or arbitrary detention.
Note: Provision of prima facie refugee status to refugees and asylum-seekers arriving from Yemen is still in place in all states of Somalia. In Somaliland, the government has extended this to Afghans, Syrians and Palestinians, all other nationalities in each region are required to undergo individual RSD.
What happens after I have completed my application for asylum?
Once you have registered your application for asylum, you will be invited to come for an interview, unless you came from a country that will be granted prima facie refugee status upon registration. During the interview you will discuss in more detail the reasons why you left your country and why you feel you cannot return. This interview is called the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) or Eligibility Interview.
Provision of prima facie refugee status to refugees and asylum-seekers arriving from Yemen is still in place in all states of Somalia. In Somaliland, the government has extended this to Afghans, Syrians and Palestinians, all other nationalities in each region are required to undergo individual RSD.
What happens during the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) interview?
UNHCR has shifted to a prioritization system of RSD cases based on vulnerabilities of the asylum seekers and their need to obtain RSD in order to achieve available protection/ solutions benefits. Once the RSD interview is scheduled, you will be contacted and informed of the date, time and venue for the RSD interview.
At the start of the interview, the UNHCR staff will make the necessary introductions, explain the purpose of the interview, his or her role as the interviewer, the role of the interpreter in case one is required and your responsibilities. For further information on your rights during the interview, see below.
UNHCR conducts detailed interviews with each individual asylum-seeker accompanied by a qualified interpreter. The statements you make during the interview will be considered along with other available information and where inconsistency is noted, the interviewer will ask you for an explanation. Everyone attending the interview is under an obligation to keep all information about your application for asylum confidential. The information provided during the interview cannot be shared without your consent. The interviewing officer, the interpreter and other people attending the interview are bound by the confidentiality obligation.
This process assesses the individual’s credibility and provides a reasoned decision as to whether the individual qualifies for refugee status under UNHCR’s mandate because of a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The procedure includes an assessment of potential exclusion, in which UNHCR determines whether an individual who is otherwise qualified for refugee status might be undeserving of international protection because he or she committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, serious non-political crimes, or crimes that are contrary to the principles of the United Nations. For those who are initially found not to be refugees, the procedure allows the individual an opportunity to appeal that decision.
In case you wish to be accompanied by a legal representative such as a lawyer, please inform UNHCR so that the appropriate arrangements can be made.
Please make sure UNHCR has your contact details (phone number). Please contact UNHCR in case your contact details change to update the information in your profile.
What happens if I miss my RSD appointment?
Please inform UNHCR and then you will be contacted by UNHCR and informed of a new date for the interview. If an asylum seeker does not show up for three consecutive RSD appointments and does not contact UNHCR within six weeks of the initial RSD appointment, UNHCR will consider that their RSD application has been abandoned and will close the case.
What happens after the RSD interview?
After the RSD interview, you will be informed about its outcome by UNHCR, with a letter of notification.
How long does it take to get a decision on my application for asylum?
All RSD decisions will normally be issued within three months following the RSD interview. However due to a high number of asylum applications, it can currently take longer than this and UNHCR is taking steps to address this issue. Pending a decision on your application for asylum, you are allowed to stay in Somalia and afforded international protection especially against refoulement (forced deportation/removal).
What can be the decision on my application for asylum?
The decision on an asylum application can either be recognition of refugee status or a rejection of the asylum application.
In case your application is accepted, a recognition letter is prepared and issued to you. You can then apply for a Refugee ID card.
How do I prepare for my RSD interview?
It is important that you rest well the day before so that you are physically, emotionally and mentally prepared for the interview. Some interviews may last longer than others depending on the complexities of the application.
Remember to carry along to the RSD interview the following documents if available;
- Identity documents
- Travel documents
- Medical records
- Marriage /Birth Certificates
- Driving License
- Education Certificates
- Newspaper clippings
- Any other relevant documents
On the day of interview, please show up with your dependents (if any) who have been scheduled for the interview on the same day.
What are my rights and obligations during the interview?
You have an obligation to tell the truth and fully cooperate in the interview process which means you must not distort, fabricate, exaggerate or omit facts. If you intentionally distort, fabricate or omit facts, this may have implications on the way your application for asylum will be considered and processed.
An interpreter may be made available to you if required so that you and the eligibility staff are able to communicate. The interpreter is both impartial and neutral and he or she has no role in making decisions about your application.
Everyone attending the interview is under an obligation to keep all information about your application for asylum confidential. The information provided during the interview cannot be shared without your consent. The interviewing officer, the interpreter and other people attending the interview are bound by the confidentiality obligation.