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UNHCR starts moving Somali refugees to a new camp in Ethiopia

News Stories, 3 April 2009

© UNHCR/P.Wiggers
A young Somali refugee cooks dinner at the Dalo Ado transit centre. UNHCR has begun moving the refugees to a new camp.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 3 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency on Friday began the relocation of thousands of Somali refugees from a transit centre in Dolo Ado, south-east Ethiopia to the newly opened Bokolmanyo camp, further inland from the border with Somalia.

A first convoy of 10 buses left Dolo Ado this morning carrying 157 Somali refugees, who fled the renewed fighting in central and southern Somalia over the past few months. They are part of a group of 5,000 Somalis who have recently been recognized as refugees by the Ethiopian government with the expert support of UNHCR. They will all be moved to Bokolmanyo

In addition, some 5,000 Somalis are staying with the local community in Dolo Ado and waiting to be screened. They claim to have fled the fighting and general insecurity in Somalia, most of them leaving the country after the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops last December and January.

In February, UNHCR reported the presence of an estimated 10,000 Somali asylum seekers in Dolo Ado, most of whom have been enjoying the hospitality of Ethiopians who are ethnic Somalis. The opening of the new camp and subsequent extension of international protection and assistance might encourage thousands of others living with the community to apply for asylum.

The land at Bokolmanyo, located north-west of Dolo Ado, has been provided by the local authorities. The new camp can accommodate up to 20,000 refugees and UNHCR and its partners are intensifying the work of expanding basic infrastructure, including water and sanitation services, a health centre, relevant basic communal facilities and a children's centre. Establishment of schools and other facilities and services is also planned.

After arriving at Bokolmanyo, the refugees will spend about three days in a reception area where they will be allocated plots of land and given building materials to construct their huts. Refugees will also be provided with food as well as tarpaulins, blankets, kitchen sets, jerry cans, family tents and mosquito nets.

The Somali region of Ethiopia already hosts more than 33,000 Somali refugees in three camps Kebribeyah, Shedder and Aw Barre. With the new arrivals, the total is expected to pass the 40,000 mark very soon.

At the peak of the Somali refugee crisis in the early 1990s, the region hosted 628,000 refugees in eight camps. The overwhelming majority of those refugees returned to their homes between 1997 and 2005. However, by mid-2005, UNHCR had closed all camps but the Kebribeyah site. Unfortunately, due to renewed conflicts and general violence in southern and central parts of Somalia, two new camps had to be opened in Ethiopia in 2007 and 2008 to accommodate new refugees fleeing Somalia.

By Kisut Gebre Egziabher in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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UNHCR country pages

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

The number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have arrived in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, and nearly 400 have died attempting the journey.

This surge in arrivals is largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the new arrivals also tell of crop losses due to drought, which forced them to leave home. This photo set focuses on those people leaving from Djibouti.

UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. We have stepped up our work in Yemen under a US$17 million operation that includes extra staff, provision of additional shelter and assistance, and protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

Posted on 20 May 2008

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

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