Somali refugees are fleeing war, cholera and hunger in Yemen, the United Nations said yesterday, with 10,000 expected to return home to a country they escaped over conflict and poverty. Somalis make up 91 percent of refugees and asylum seekers in Yemen, with the United Nations reporting some 256,000 Somalis based in camps in the war-torn country.
Thousands have headed to Yemen since the start of 2017, despite a conflict in the Arabian Peninsula country that has killed thousands and a cholera outbreak threatening nearly one million people. But up to 10,000 Somali refugees are now trying to flee Yemen, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said. Two boats chartered by UNHCR and the U.N. migration agency IOM have already left Yemen's port of Aden for the Somali port of Berbera, most recently on Sunday.
While Somali refugees in Yemen largely hail from southern Somalia and the northwestern region of Woqooyi Galbeed, most returnees are heading to the capital Mogadishu, the target of a deadly bombing last month. Access to food, shelter and medicine remains a challenge in Somalia, which has been torn by decades of conflict and ranks second on the 2017 fragile states index. The war in Yemen has pushed 17 million people to the brink of famine, in what the United Nations this year called the "largest humanitarian crisis in the world."