Saturday December 14, 2019
Two UN agencies said Friday some 5,087 Somali refugees have so far returned home from Yemen since it started an Assisted Spontaneous Return (ASR) program in 2017.
The UN Refugee Agency(UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 39 organized departures have now taken place from Yemen to Somalia since the ASR program commenced two years ago.
“IOM provides operational support to refugee return movements through chartering a boat, providing medical support upon arrival and transportation assistance to the refugees’ final destinations,” said the UN agencies.
The agencies said a boat carrying 145 Somali refugees left the Port of Aden on Thursday and was due at the Port of Berbera on Friday in the latest departure.
Amongst those who departed on Thursday was 20-year-old Naima who is hoping to go back to school in Somalia.
“She had to stop her education 10 years ago when her father got sick. Naima was left helping her mother around the house and working in the family business,” said the UN agencies.
“I hope to be able to go back to school, complete my education, study medicine, and one day become a doctor,” said Naima.
According to the UN, Yemen hosts the world’s second-largest Somali refugee population, around 250,000 refugees.
It is a long-standing refugee host nation and the only country in the Arabian Peninsula which is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and its protocol. But, after more than four years of conflict in Yemen — the situation for civilians, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants has deteriorated, said the UN agencies.
The ASR program is facilitated by UNHCR in partnership with IOM, and in cooperation with humanitarian partners and authorities in Yemen and Somalia.
According to UNHCR, refugee movements from Somalia to Yemen have been taking place since the 1980s and continued following the outbreak of civil war in Somalia.