Somalia: convoys restart from eastern Ethiopia
Convoy movements resumed at the end of October for the voluntary repatriation of Somali refugees from eastern Ethiopia to north-west Somalia. A total of 3,000 people were repatriated in two convoys leaving the Ethiopian camp of Dharwanaji, in eastern Ethiopia, to north-west Somalia. The area is one of the safest and most stable in Somalia. The repatriation operation, which started in March 2000, has been stalled since late August due to financial constraints. However, UNHCR managed to assist a total of 45,000 people with repatriation this year, bringing to 115,000 the number of Somalis from north-west Somalia repatriated since 1997. UNHCR will continue organising convoys in the coming months for the approximately 130,000 Somalis remaining in eight camps scattered along the eastern Ethiopian border with Somalia.
During the past two weeks, some 600 Ethiopian returnees who had been living in refugee camps since they returned to Ethiopia after the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991, were also assisted to go back to their regions of origin, with the agreement and help of the authorities. They received the same package as Somali refugees on their departure, including food and non-food items, as well as a transportation allowance. So far this year, some 7,000 Ethiopians were thus assisted to start a new life in their home country.
The 130,000 Somali refugees in Ethiopia are mostly from north and north-western areas of Somalia. There are an additional 164,000 Somali refugees from southern parts of Somalia in neighbouring countries, most of whom are in two camps in Kenya, and some others in Ethiopia's Jijiga camp.
Ethiopia hosts more than 200,000 refugees, a majority of whom are from Somalia. Other nationalities include refugees from Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti.