• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

Hope wins out as Somali refugee heads to Salt Lake City for a new life

News Stories, 9 September 2011

Muhioadin Ahmed Aden and his son Abdi, who were due to be resettled today.

DADAAB, Kenya, Sept 9 (UNHCR) Muhioadin Ahmed Aden stares out at the horizon, knowing that the second most important journey of his life will begin today. A struggle within his heart, between despair and a desperate enduring hope, has finally come to a conclusion.

His family sits by his side. His youngest son, Abdi Salim, holds his hand. Salim thinks about the six-year-old's future; the school he will attend, the life he will lead. Hope has won.

Like thousands of other Somalis over the years at Kenya's sprawling, crowded Dadaab refugee complex, Aden has been accepted for resettlement. Today, he travels to Nairobi and in a few days time he will touch down at Salt Lake City in the United States.

"It will be a different life and I think it will be better than this one," he said as he waited to leave. "I look forward to having my children educated. I will live in a house or an apartment, not under plastic sheeting and wooden poles like I have [done] for so long."

At the same time, the 45-year-old pictures the tens of thousands of refugees arriving at Dadaab's Ifo camp just as he did in 1991, when the longer civil strife in Somalia erupted. He sees their beleaguered faces, their confused glances. The faces transport him back to the day when he too was forced to flee Somalia.

His father and two brothers were killed in inter-clan conflict near the southern Somalia town of Kismayu. "I see my past in these people. We were just walking and walking," he said. "I had no idea when I arrived in Kenya that I would live in a refugee camp for the next 20 years."

Aden knows the difficulties the newcomers will face. It was so difficult for him during the first few years. A nomad and a herder in peacetime Somalia, Aden was not accustomed to eating the wheat flower and grains that are distributed in the camps.

During the first few months at Dadaab, it was hard to trust strangers. And even though he was grateful to be out of reach of those who destroyed his family, he still worried for his own security.

Over time, life improved. But it was difficult for him to find work in the camps. It took years before he managed to make his living driving a donkey cart, carrying sand and construction poles for 500 Kenyan Schillings (US$5.3) per day.

He knows he has a lot of learning to do in order to make up for those lost years.

"Do you think in America I can be a taxi driver?" he asked. "It's something I will have to learn." Now, he faces a whole new set of challenges.





An alternative for those who cannot go home, made possible by UNHCR and governments.

The Continuity Of Risk

A three-city study of Congolese women-at-risk resettled in the U.S.

Stateless in American Samoa: Mikhail Sebastian's Story

Mikhail Sebastian is a stateless man who has been living in the United States for more than a decade-and-a-half. In this video, he tells of the hardships he has faced and the importance of providing legal protections to stateless persons in the U.S.

Operational Guidance

Operational Guidance for the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Between February and October 2011, more than 1 million people crossed into Tunisia to escape conflict in Libya. Most were migrant workers who made their way home or were repatriated, but the arrivals included refugees and asylum-seekers who could not return home or live freely in Tunisia.

UNHCR has been trying to find solutions for these people, most of whom ended up in the Choucha Transit Camp near Tunisia's border with Libya. Resettlement remains the most viable solution for those registered as refugees at Choucha before a cut-off date of December 1, 2011.

As of late April, 14 countries had accepted 2,349 refugees for resettlement, 1,331 of whom have since left Tunisia. The rest are expected to leave Choucha later this year. Most have gone to Australia, Norway and the United States. But there are a more than 2,600 refugees and almost 140 asylum-seekers still in the camp. UNHCR continues to advocate with resettlement countries to find solutions for them.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

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

Celebrating 10 years of refugee resettlementPlay video

Celebrating 10 years of refugee resettlement

Kenya: A Lifetime of WaitingPlay video

Kenya: A Lifetime of Waiting

Sarah was born and raised in Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. Now 21, she has become a wife and mother without ever setting foot outside the camp.
Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehousePlay video

Iraq: Uprooted and living in a warehouse

An Iraqi man who turned down resettlement to the U.S. in 2006 tells how it feels now to be a "refugee" in his own country, in limbo, hoping to restart life in another Iraqi city.