(Xinhua/NAN) Two UN agencies said on Friday that some 5,087 Somali refugees had so far returned home from Yemen since it started an Assisted Spontaneous Return (ASR) programme in 2017.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that 39 organised departures had taken place from Yemen to Somalia since the ASR programme began 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 further said that 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.
The UN agencies said that amongst those who departed on Thursday were 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 to help her mother in the house and work in the family business.
“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.
The UN agencies said after more than four years of conflict in Yemen the situation for civilians, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants has deteriorated.
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. (Xinhua/NAN)