For the past two decades Somalia has been the biggest refugee producing and exporting country in the world, but things seem to be getting better and Somalia is becoming host country for refugees.
The country is likely to have the first refugee camp as government grapples with the surge of refugees from Yemen following the ongoing conflict in that country. Since the flare up of war and the airstrikes by Saudi led coalition, thousands of Yemeni citizens have been fleeing from their home and started arriving in Somalia.
Goobjoog News has been closely following the issue of Yemeni refugees arriving in Somalia and on Monday our news team visited the Yemeni embassy in Mogadishu.
We spoke to the ambassador Fuad Mohamed Al-Marzuk about the situation of Yemeni refugees housed inside the embassy walls.
“We have over 200 refugee families inside the embassy who fled from Yemen following the ongoing conflict. We have more than a thousand others in Puntland and Somaliland, all of whom have received help from Somali government and aid organizations. I can tell you that all is fine with them” said the ambassadors.
He said that they have an appointment with the Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid whom they submitted a formal request to allocate land to establish a refugee camp for the increasing number of Yemeni refugees arriving in Somalia as the embassy premises would not be able to accommodate.
Yemeni refugees inside the embassy who pitched tents inside the compound Goobjoog News that they receive food aid but not on regular basis. We could also see a kitchen where food is served for the refugees but we were told that some families opted to cook food themselves.
Before we enter the embassy we passed a group of people camping outside who said they have been denied access to embassy. “Those people are Somali nationals who were in Yemen as refugees, now they returned to their home country and they want to be considered as Yemenis so as to get help and that is not possible and we cannot afford” said the ambassidour.
Halimo Abdi is one of the Yemeni refugees who housed in tents inside the embassy. She told Goobjoog News about her living conditions there “ I and my children live here and in that tent is the grandfather of my children who is old and sick. I can tell you that we are fine here despite the lack of education for my children,” said Halimo.
In another tent we passed by a woman doing laundry for her five children. She told us that when it rains, the tent doesn’t protect them. “We need good shelter,” she said, refusing to mention her name.
When we closely examined we established the main needs for the Yemeni refugees range from food ration, medical treatment to education.
Food rations, medical help and education is the major concern for all refugees in the camp.
Among the places where Yemeni refugees are camped is Qardho , Puntland where some 400 refugees are housed in the East Africa University campus. Sheikh Abdikadir Yasin, the person in charge of the camp says 40% of these are children, 6 of which are unaccompanied.
He said that the first priority need is shelter as the university would soon reopen and the refugees would have to vacate.
“It’s true that the university will reopen on 1st of September, 2015 so it is very important for the refugees to get a new place and the government should allocate it,“ said Sheikh Abdirisak.
On 18th of July Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid visited the university to see the refugees first hand. He promised that his government would allocate land to for a camp. “I wanted to visit you and get first hand information of your situation and I promise to do something about your needs. I have instructed The National Refugee Commission to take up your matters,” said the PM.
Sheik Noor Barud Gurhan the chairman of Somali Refugee Rescue Committee who has been helping Somali citizens to evacuate from Yemen, is calling on the government to register Yemenis as refugees and make plans to resettle them.
Abdinasir Bashir Ahmed