Ethiopia: repatriation convoy arrives in Somalia
Several trucks in a repatriation convoy carrying more than 1,700 Somali refugees returning home from camps in eastern Ethiopia were on Sunday pulled out of mud, three days after the 25-truck convoy got stuck several kilometres away from the Ethiopia/Somalia border. The convoy, carrying more than 400 families, arrived in the north-west Somalia town of Hargeisa late Sunday, on the fourth day after it left Daror camp in eastern Ethiopia. The return convoy had departed the refugee camp at dawn on 25 November for a journey that had been expected to last a maximum of six hours - four hours from the camps to the Ethiopia/Somalia border and another two hours to the Somaliland town of Hargeisa. Trucks in the convoy got stuck at a place called Buro-Duray, some 25 km from the Ethiopia/Somalia border.
UNHCR staff escorting the convoys made urgent arrangements to provide food and water to the stranded returnees while efforts were made to dislodge the trucks from the mud. The region is experiencing heavy rains that are expected to continue till the end of November, when the short rainy season ends.
Capitalising on dry spells over the weekend, UNHCR in Jijiga yesterday (Monday) sent two convoys carrying 3,183 returnees to Somaliland. The convoys arrived in Hargeisa late yesterday without any difficulties.
Nearly 44,000 Somali refugees have returned home, this year alone, from camps in eastern Ethiopia to north-west Somalia, also known as Somaliland. UNHCR hopes to arrange more convoys for the return of more than 10,000 Somali refugees remaining in Daror camp, which is slated for closure before the end of the year.