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UNHCR distributes aid from UAE to refugees in Yemen

News Stories, 3 September 2009

© UNHCR/R.Nuri
A Somali refugee holds some of the aid he received at Kharaz camp.

ADEN, Yemen, September 3 (UNHCR) UNHCR staff have helped distribute pasta, sugar and dates to thousands of mainly Somali refugees in Yemen's Kharaz Camp thanks to the generosity of the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates and the president of the Gulf federation.

The food was donated to help the refugees as they marked the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims must not eat during daylight hours. Staff from the UNHCR and the Society for Humanitarian Solidarity, a partner agency, handed out the food on Monday to 2,800 families in Kharaz and 800 needy Yemeni families in nearby villages a total of about 18,000 people.

Excited children chased the trucks laden with food as they toured the camp and surrounding area, which is located some 150 kilometres west of the port city of Aden. "Every year we long for Ramadan to come," said 30-year-old Fatima, a Somali whose six-year-old son followed the food distributors. "We feel that Ramadan has started as soon as the truck stops by our door."

The Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates has donated food to the refugees in Kharaz camp for the past five years. "As human beings and Muslims we are committed to solidarity," said Manaf Yassin, head of the Red Crescent's office in Aden.

Leila Nassif, head of the UNHCR office in Aden, said the donation by the Red Crescent and a federation headed by United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was further proof "of the extreme generosity of Muslims and Muslim countries towards people in need."

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Middle East, with scarce resources and limited employment opportunities. Yet, it hosts some 140,000 refugees and grants refugee status to all Somalis entering the Yemen. Some 11,000 live in Kharaz camp, located in a remote and desolate area of Yemen's Lahaj region.

UNHCR and its partners run a number of projects to meet their basic needs as well as to provide essential services, including food, shelter, medical care, water and sanitation, and education. Nevertheless, despite the generosity of donors and the efforts of the government, more resources are needed.

"Additional funds would allow us to expand income-generation activities in the camp, invest in small-scale agricultural projects and offer more opportunities for self reliance," said Nassif, while adding: "The involvement of the international community as a whole is needed."

By Rocco Nuri in Aden, Yemen




East Africans continue to flood into the Arabian Peninsula

Every month, thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia cross the Gulf of Aden or the Red Sea to reach Yemen, fleeing drought, poverty, conflict or persecution. And although this year's numbers are, so far, lower than in 2012 - about 62,200 in the first 10 months compared to 88,533 for the same period last year - the Gulf of Aden remains one of the world's most travelled sea routes for irregular migration (asylum-seekers and migrants). UNHCR and its local partners monitor the coast to provide assistance to the new arrivals and transport them to reception centres. Those who make it to Yemen face many challenges and risks. The government regards Somalis as prima facie refugees and automatically grants them asylum, but other nationals such as the growing number of Ethiopians can face detention. Some of the Somalis make their own way to cities like Aden, but about 50 a day arrive at Kharaz Refugee Camp, which is located in the desert in southern Yemen. Photographer Jacob Zocherman recently visited the Yemen coast where arrivals land, and the camp where many end up.

East Africans continue to flood into the Arabian Peninsula

A Family of Somali Artists Continue to Create in Exile

During two decades of conflict and chaos in Somalia, Mohammed Ousman stayed in Mogadishu and taught art as others fled the country. But life became impossible after Al Shabaab militants killed his brother for continuing to practise art. Four of the man's nine children were also murdered. Mohammed closed his own "Picasso Art School" and married his brother's widow, in accordance with Somali custom. But without a job, the 57-year-old struggled to support two families and eventually this cost him his first family. Mohammed decided to leave, flying to Berbera in Somaliland in late 2011 and then crossing to Aw-Barre refugee camp in Ethiopia, where he joined his second wife and her five children. UNHCR transferred Mohammed and his family to Addis Ababa on protection grounds, and in the belief that he could make a living there from his art. But he's discovering that selling paintings and drawings can be tough - he relies on UNHCR support. The following images of the artist and his family were taken by UNHCR's Kisut Gebre Egziabher.

A Family of Somali Artists Continue to Create in Exile

Yemeni Province Starts Rebuilding as 100,000 Displaced Return

Life is slowly returning to normal in urban and rural areas of the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, where fighting between government forces and rebels caused major population displacements in 2011 and 2012.

But since last July, as hostilities subsided and security began to improve, more than 100,000 internally displaced people (IDP) have returned to their homes in the province, or governorate. Most spent more than a year in temporary shelters in neighbouring provinces such as Aden and Lahj.

Today, laughing children once more play without fear in the streets of towns like the Abyan capital, Zinjibar, and shops are reopening. But the damage caused by the conflict is visible in many areas and the IDPs have returned to find a lack of basic services and livelihood opportunities as well as lingering insecurity in some areas.

There is frustration about the devastation, which has also affected electricity and water supplies, but most returnees are hopeful about the future and believe reconstruction will soon follow. UNHCR has been providing life-saving assistance since the IDP crisis first began in 2011, and is now helping with the returns.

Amira Al Sharif, a Yemeni photojournalist, visited Abyan recently to document life for the returnees.

Yemeni Province Starts Rebuilding as 100,000 Displaced Return

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Ali and his family are ready to return to Somalia after living in Dadaab refugee camp for the past five years. We follow their journey from packing up their home in the camp to settling into their new life back in Somalia.
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Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In Mogadishu

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visits Mogadishu, expresses solidarity with Somali people on eve of Ramadan.
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Somalia: Solutions For Somali Refugees

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