Somalis return home from Ethiopia
GENEVA, July 27 (UNHCR) - A years-long operation to help Somali refugees return home from Ethiopian camps has resumed. Since 1997 more than 160,000 people have gone home.
A four-year operation to help Somali refugees return home from camps in Ethiopia resumed Friday after a short break. A 25-truck convoy picked up 485 refugees from the remote Aware camps in Eastern Ethiopia for a 60-kilometre trip to the Somali border where they were to be transferred to another convoy and transported to the Somaliland town of Hargeisa, the region from which many of them come. A second convoy carrying 1,000 refugees was scheduled for July 29.
An estimated 95,000 people who fled various crises in Somalia remain in Ethiopia. At the height of the exodus in 1991, there were a total of 512,000 refugees. UNHCR has helped some 160,000 people go home in 142 convoys since a return operation began in 1997. Many others have returned spontaneously, without official help.
As the number of refugees has dwindled, camps are also being closed. Teferiber and Dawarnaje camps were shut earlier this year and a third, Daror, is scheduled to be closed by the end of the year.
Each refugee is given a small cash grant, and a 'repatriation package' which includes domestic supplies and nine months supply of food items which are sometimes exchanged for other practical items, live animals such as goats and sheep or for cash to pay off debts.