1. Home
  2. Middle East and North Africa
  3. Yemen

Bracing for a fresh influx of Somali refugees

 A UNHCR distribution of non-food items at Mayfaa Reception Centre in Shabwa Province, Yemen
(Rocco Nuri/UNHCR)

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is expecting a sharp increase in the number of Somalis seeking refuge in Yemen in the coming weeks due to a worsening security situation in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.



"We are aware that most of those who fled to Bosasso [Somali port city] are waiting for the first opportunity offered by smugglers to take the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden," said Rocco Nuri, external relations officer for UNHCR in Aden, Yemen. "We are expecting a surge in landings as soon as weather conditions improve."



The Yemeni government has voiced concern over the potential influx of new asylum-seekers; there are already over 150,000 registered Somali refugees and many more unregistered Somali asylum-seekers and economic migrants living in the country.



The government predicts the number of Somali refugees entering Yemen in 2009 to be double the more than 33,000 registered arrivals in 2008.



Yemen's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told IRIN that it estimates there are as many as 700,000 Somalis living in Yemen (population 23 million), many as economic migrants. The ministry said most Somalis in Yemen subsist on aid from international agencies or NGOs, or take on menial work in order to survive.



The poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is increasingly feeling the strain of this influx of African refugees. It has a 35 percent unemployment rate and its own domestic political problems: The government is fighting a rebel group in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.



In addition, among Arab countries Yemen already has the second highest percentage of population without access to safe water (after Comoros) - with 33 percent, according to a UN Development Programme (UNDP) study in 2007.


Kharaz refugee camp, about 150km west of Yemen's commercial capital, Aden, is one of the places newly arrived Somalis are taken to

Rocco Nuri/UNHCR
Kharaz refugee camp, about 150km west of Yemen's commercial capital, Aden, is one of the places newly arrived Somalis are taken to...
http://www.unhcr.org/
Monday, August 31, 2009
Not for reuse
Kharaz refugee camp, about 150km west of Yemen's commercial capital, Aden, is one of the places newly arrived Somalis are taken to...
This is a private file—do not show on the public facing site.


Photo: Rocco Nuri/UNHCR
Kharaz
refugee camp, about 150km west of Yemen's commercial capital, Aden, is
one of the places newly arrived Somalis are taken to

More assistance needed



According to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Muthana, Yemen needs more assistance from the international community to shoulder the burden of violence in Mogadishu, which is driving more and more Somalis to Yemen's shores.



"There is cooperation between Yemen and the international community. However, it's not enough," he told IRIN.



"It's not only feeding the Somalis who are coming, but they need work, they need health and social services. Yemen cannot afford these people. There are limitations in that respect. That's why Yemen has - from the very beginning - said the problem is the instability in Somalia. It's the situation in Somalia that needs to be addressed first," Muthan said.



UNHCR in Yemen has increased its capacity to handle the anticipated arrival of 20,000 extra refugees from Somalia this year. It is lobbying for policy change on migration issues, raising human rights awareness, and supporting the establishment of a Migration and Refugee Studies Centre at Sanaa University.



"Coordination and information-sharing at any level remain cornerstones for addressing, in a timely and effective manner, the needs of asylum-seekers and refugees," the UNHCR'S Nuri said.



lk/ed/cb


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

We uncovered the sex abuse scandal that rocked the WHO, but there’s more to do

We just covered a report that says the World Health Organization failed to prevent and tackle widespread sexual abuse during the Ebola response in Congo.

Our investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation triggered this probe, demonstrating the impact our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone. 

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and do more of this. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join