(STN-MUQDISHO):_ The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that some 116 Somali refugees arrived in the port of Berbera in Somalia on Monday after sailing from Aden in Yemen on Sunday.
The UNHCR said the latest assisted spontaneous return in cooperation with International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the authorities in Yemen and Somalia brings to over 2,000 the total number of refugees who have returned to the Horn of African nation since the program started in 2017. “So far this year 1,321 Somalis (including the 116 who left on Sunday) have returned to their places of origin in Somalia,” the UN refugee agency said in a statement.
“On arrival in Somalia, returnees receive a reinstallation cash grant and an allowance. Returnees also receive a package consisting of household items, food assistance through WFP, and an education allowance for primary school children,” it added.
The UN agency said weather conditions in the past two months had prevented the boat from sailing and the journey from the port of Aden to Berbera takes some 15-17 hours. The Assisted Spontaneous Returns (ASR) program was initiated in 2017 in response to demand from refugees for UNHCR help in returning home. Yemen currently hosts over 270,000 refugees, the vast majority of whom (256,363) are Somali. Some 45 percent are hosted in the south of the country, in Kharaz refugee camp — Yemen’s only refugee camp — and in the Basateen urban settlement in Aden, according to the UNHCR. UNHCR and partners said they face enormous challenges in ensuring safe living environments, adequate protection, humanitarian assistance and access to essential, life-saving services.