Press Release: Somali Refugees from Yemen return to Somalia

berbera.jpgIn the past few weeks more than 5.000 (primarily Somali) refugees from Yemen crossed the Gulf of Aden to Somalia (Puntland and Somaliland) and Djibouti. The governments of these countries do not have the capacity to properly house these (returning) refugees. Therefore, the UNHCR is doing all they can to take care of these vulnerable people. In the Gulf of Aden, there are no patrolling ships and the refugees travel in simple fishing boats. It is assumed that, like in the Mediterranean Sea, a lot of people drown during the journey.

Since 1991, a lot of Somali have fled their home country; more than 200.000 of them went to Yemen where they are living in refugee camps. Now again, they have to run for the violence of the Houthi rebels and the bombardments of the international coalition, led by Saudi-Arabia. Many Somali refugees have no choice but to try to get a spot in a boat and accept the journey back.

The UNHCR is making preparations to house 130.000 refugees from Yemen (30.000 in Djibouti and 100.000 in Somalia). However, the situation in Somalia is still unstable. The government does not have the capacity to provide the necessary goods for the refugees (food, water, shelter, fuel) to properly house them. Therefore, the refugees are unable to return to the regions they originate from (primarily South- and Central Somalia).

The bitter fact is that, according to the UNHCR, there are also still arriving Somali refugees in Yemen on a daily basis. They are either unaware of the current situation in Yemen or they are unable to leave the smugglers that are arranging their journey.

SulubIsmail, local representative of HIRDA Somaliland, witnessed that the situation in the refugee camp in Berbera (Somaliland), that is currently hosting 850 refugees, is very hard. Families in the camp were shouting to get food, water and transport to reach their regions of origin. The majority of the people are weak and tired, the unfavourable and very hot climate of Berbera makes them even weaker. Some of the returnees already began begging on the streets.  

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