Convoy returning Somali refugees home delayed three days by mud
HARGEISA, Somalia, Oct. 30 (UNHCR) - A convoy carrying more than 1,700 Somali refugees home from camps in eastern Ethiopia finally arrived in the Somali town of Hargeisa late Sunday after a three-day delay caused by heavy mud that paralysed the operation.
In a related development, UNHCR Monday took advantage of a dry spell during the current rainy season to send two other convoys with a total of 3,183 refugees from Jijiga to Hargeisa in north-west Somalia, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.
Nearly 44,000 Somali refugees have returned to their homes this year from camps in eastern Ethiopia to north-west Somalia, which is also known as Somaliland. UNHCR said it hopes to arrange for more convoys to return the approximately 10,000 refugees that remain in the Daror camp before its scheduled closing at the end of the year.
The refugees, who fled their homeland in the wake of collapse of the Siad Barre regime and the civil war that ensued, are returning home after nearly ten years of exile.
The stranded refugees departed the Daror camp in eastern Ethiopia last Thursday for a journey that was to take a maximum of six hours. But the trucks got stuck in heavy mud in Buro-Duray, some 25 kilometres from the Somali border, according to the U.N. refugee agency. The convoy was finally dislodged and was able to continue its journey.
"UNHCR staff members escorting the convoys made urgent arrangements to provide food and water to the stranded refugees," the agency said in a statement.