UNHCR concerned about new restrictions on humanitarian work in Somalia

News Stories, 1 November 2011

© UNHCR/S.Modola
A young Somali refugee receives an injection at a reception centre in Kenya's sprawling Dadaab complex.

GENEVA, November 29 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency expressed concern on Tuesday at the decision earlier this week by Somalia's Al Shabaab militia to revoke permission for UNHCR and other UN aid organizations to work in areas controlled by the group.

"This comes at the time of a dire humanitarian crisis in southern and central parts of Somalia," UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told journalists in Geneva. "We are assessing the impact of this latest development on our humanitarian operations in these parts of Somalia," he added.

The spokesman said military operations and heavy rains were limiting the movements of the displaced population in Somalia's Gedo region bordering Kenya. There have been no cross-border movements between the border towns of Dobley in Somalia and Liboi in Kenya.

However, Mahecic said, there were reports of more than 500 people, including children, travelling on foot from Qooqaani, Tabta (both in Gedo region) and Afmadow (Lower Juba) towards Dobley. "They cite a lack of food in their towns, cut off by the recent rains and military activity. Some people who have already arrived in Dobley told our staff that they were forced to leave their homes due to lack of food," he said.

"They indicated that they are willing to return as soon as the situation improves and are not planning to cross the border in order to reach Dadaab [refugee complex in north-east Kenya]. A number of agencies are operational in Dobley, undertaking distributions of food and other assistance," he added.

Insecurity, meanwhile, continues to hamper UNHCR's operations in Dadaab, which is home to some 460,000 refugees, more than 150,000 of whom arrived this year after fleeing drought and conflict in Somalia. It has been several weeks since the authorities stopped registering new arrivals. Aid agencies cannot assess the number and condition of new arrivals as their movements are still limited in the camps.

More than 360 refugees have been affected by cholera and acute watery diarrhoea. Most are treated as outpatient cases and there is a need for more supplies of oral rehydration salts and other treatments. At Dadaab's Kambioos site, the mortality rate has decreased and it is expected that the situation will further stabilize following food distributions over the weekend.

Despite security restrictions, the authorities managed to complete a mass oral polio vaccination campaign for all refugee children aged under five years. And efforts are continuing to enhance security measures in Dadaab, including the deployment of additional policemen.

In eastern Ethiopia's Dollo Ado camps, UNHCR staff are noting high rates of severe malnutrition among refugee children aged under five years turning up at a transit centre. In response, UNHCR and its partners are expanding a wet feed programme to all children up to the age of 10, and adding milk powder to their porridge to boost nutrient levels.

A fifth camp in that area, Bur Amino, is ready to receive a first batch of more than 7,000 refugees from the transit centre as of tomorrow. The transfers from the Dollo Ado transit centre will start initially with 500 people and will increase gradually until all the refugees are moved to the new site.

But access to these areas is increasingly difficult due to heavy rains. The roads are intermittently impassable and the local airstrip is often flooded preventing aircraft from landing. "This is seriously affecting our supplies and operations as we run low on fuel, electricity and safe drinking water," Mahecic said.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Assistance

From life-saving aid to help with shelter, health, water, education and more.

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

Over the weekend, UNHCR with the help of the US military began an emergency airdrop of some 200 tonnes of relief supplies for thousands of refugees badly hit by massive flooding in the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya.

In a spectacular sight, 16 tonnes of plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, tents and blankets, were dropped on each run from the C-130 transport plane onto a site cleared of animals and people. Refugees loaded the supplies on trucks to take to the camps.

Dadaab, a three-camp complex hosting some 160,000 refugees, mainly from Somalia, has been cut off from the world for a month by heavy rains that washed away the road connecting the remote camps to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Air transport is the only way to get supplies into the camps.

UNHCR has moved 7,000 refugees from Ifo camp, worst affected by the flooding, to Hagadera camp, some 20 km away. A further 7,000 refugees have been moved to higher ground at a new site, called Ifo 2.

Posted in December 2006

Flood Airdrop in Kenya

New Arrivals in Yemen

During one six-day period at the end of March, more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians arrived on the shores of Yemen after crossing the Gulf of Aden on smuggler's boats from Bosaso, Somalia. At least 28 people died during these recent voyages – from asphyxiation, beating or drowning – and many were badly injured by the smugglers. Others suffered skin problems as a result of prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel oil and other chemicals.

During a recent visit to Yemen, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller pledged to further raise the profile of the situation, to appeal for additional funding and international action to help Yemen, and to develop projects that will improve the living conditions and self sufficiency of the refugees in Yemen.

Since January 2006, Yemen has received nearly 30,000 people from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places, while more than 500 people have died during the sea crossing and at least 300 remain missing. UNHCR provides assistance, care and housing to more than 100,000 refugees already in Yemen.

New Arrivals in Yemen

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

The number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have arrived in Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, and nearly 400 have died attempting the journey.

This surge in arrivals is largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the new arrivals also tell of crop losses due to drought, which forced them to leave home. This photo set focuses on those people leaving from Djibouti.

UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. We have stepped up our work in Yemen under a US$17 million operation that includes extra staff, provision of additional shelter and assistance, and protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

Posted on 20 May 2008

The Gulf of Aden: Sharp Rise in Crossings and Deaths

Syria: Aid Reaches Eastern AleppoPlay video

Syria: Aid Reaches Eastern Aleppo

An agreement between the Syrian Government and the opposition allows UNHCR and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to deliver humanitarian assistance to the besieged city of Aleppo.
Somalia: UN High Commissioner For Refugees In MogadishuPlay video

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.
Somalia: Solutions For Somali RefugeesPlay video

Somalia: Solutions For Somali Refugees

In Kenya, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres discusses solutions for Somali refugees.