Somali refugees in Horn of Africa surpass 1 mln
Monday, October 15, 2012
The number of Somali refugees in neighboring countries have reached 1.03 million mainly hosted in Kenya, Yemen, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tanzania and Uganda, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.
According to statistics released by the UN High Refugee for Refugees (UNHCR), there are almost 1.36 million Somalis internally displaced within the country, settled mainly in the South-Central region as at Oct. 11.
"UNHCR leads protection and emergency relief interventions targeting almost 1.36 million IDPs, in addition to delivering protection and assistance to over 2,100 refugees in Somalia," the UNHCR said in the data released on Friday.
The recent security developments in the Horn of Africa has promoted Kenya to sent out an appeal to UN to mobilize all relevant agencies to embark on relocating the refugees living in Kenya to liberated areas of Somalia.
The East African nation has argued the situation created by the presence of more than 650,000 refugees at the Daadab camp in Kenya was untenable.
"Following relative improvements in the security situation in Mogadishu between February and April 2009, over 65,000 displaced people and refugees had traveled back to the capital from various areas of South Central Somalia and Somaliland, as well as from neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Yemen," the UNHCR said.
Nonetheless, the UN refugee agency said escalating fighting between the main opposing forces have led to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes in the Somali capital Mogadishu after more than 300,000 fled in 2010 alone.
"In 2012, the number of IDPs in Somalia is estimated to be approximately 1.36 million most of whom fled Mogadishu in 2007 and 2008, due to increased military activities between pro and anti- government forces," he said.
"Up to 120,000 of them now live in makeshift shelters along the road linking Mogadishu to Afgooye, some few kilometers to the west of the capital."
Somali people are facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today with one in three Somalis being in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and one in every three children living in the south-central region is malnourished.
According to the UNHCR, an estimated 3.7 million Somalis are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance due to drought and insecurity incidents in some parts of the Horn of Africa nation.
"Increasingly, Somalis are leaving their homes, walking thousands of km in search of food, most of them ending up in IDP settlements within Somalia and refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, in extremely malnourished conditions," it said.
Relief agencies say the situation in most of the southern and central part of Somalia remains fluid and unstable, though there appears to be relative calm is some areas.
The drought has been less severe this year, yet the prospects for the harvest next month are poor. Many people struggle to cope, as livelihoods remain extremely fragile. As part of the overall humanitarian effort, the UNHCR alone has distributed aid to some displaced inside Somalia since January.
According to the UNHCR, most of Somalia continues to be in security level 5 (high), with Mogadishu and other areas on level 6 (extreme), adding that ongoing conflict continues to restrict humanitarian access and hamper delivery of lifesaving assistance.
"Distribution of emergency/temporary shelter materials and other relief items and protection cum livelihood interventions are the activities carried out by the UNHCR in favor of IDPs.
Somalia hosts a total of 2,196 refugees and 8,479 registered asylum seekers, mainly from Ethiopia.
The UNHCR's refugee operation is focused in the regions of Somaliland and Puntland, with the overwhelming majority of the refugees and asylum seekers (about 70 percent of the refugees and 90 percent of the asylum seekers) being hosted in Somaliland and Puntland respectively.
In the absence of a formal national asylum framework, the situation of refugees in Somaliland and Puntland is essentially insecure and the overall protection context remains weak.
"This is particularly highlighted by arbitrary detention of recognized refugees, as well as the hostility and discrimination towards "foreigners" which impedes access to the (limited) socio- economic opportunities available to the local population," it said.
Refugees do not have legal rights to work, and access to protection through law enforcement and justice mechanisms are limited.
The UNHCR carries out refugee status determination (RSD) under its mandate and also provides health, education, shelter and legal assistance to all recognized refugees, in addition to targeted assistance to extremely vulnerable households of asylum seekers.