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Djibouti: repatriation of southern Somalis resumes

Briefing notes

Djibouti: repatriation of southern Somalis resumes

14 December 2000

UNHCR this week resumed the repatriation of southern Somali refugees from Djibouti. As many as 624 have been repatriated to Mogadishu since the resumption of the operation at the beginning of the week. The refugees are part of the 1,100 southern Somalis who have been living in Obock refugee camp in Djibouti.

The operation, which had been interrupted due to lack of funding, will be completed by the first week of January 2001. At the moment, UNHCR only facilitates the return of Somalis to the relatively stable South. Because security in southern Somalia remains precarious, UNHCR is organising the return of only those who choose to return home. UNHCR flies the refugees to Mogadishu and then finances their onward journey to their home areas.

Those who remain in Djibouti will be moved to the existing camps of Hol Hol and Ali Ade and the refugee camp in Obock will then be closed at the end of January 2001.

Since the beginning of the year, 4,744 persons have been repatriated from Djibouti to southern Somalia. In addition to the southern Somalis in Djibouti, there are 24,000 refugees from a relatively peaceful self-declared "independent" Somaliland. But their return has been halted because of the political tension between the governments of Djibouti and Somaliland.