Due to severe conflict and a dire need for humanitarian intervention over 20 000 refugees (from Somalia), migrant workers from scattered undeveloped countries and Yemeni citizen sought refuge in Djibouti and Somalia – according to the International Office of Migration.
Due no commercial flights flying either in nor out of Yemen, thousands of people were left stranded – furthermore, internal movement has been close to rigid due to fuel shortages, and constant check points. This increased boat travel to resupply humanitarian agencies, further creating opportunity for multitudes of people to travel to Djibouti crossing the red sea, and to the Gulf of Aden in Somalia.
Djibouti became one of the better sought areas for refuge primarily due to its historical ties with Yemen, and of course Djibouti government’s open door policy. In figures, 13% are Djibouti nationals, 42% Yemeni’s and 43% a bulk of people from different countries en route to their respective homes.
Although Djibouti has opened their doors to those seeking refuge from Yemen’s atrocities, there is much need for humanitarian assistance. According to IOM Djibouti migration officer Rosalinda Cottone, there is need to increase accommodation at the Migration Response Centre and in Djibouti’s capital – Djibouti city.
“The transit accommodation capacity at the Center in Obock is overstretched and all the hotels are full,” she says, adding that in spite of this, they are working as quickly as they can to assist migrants from Ethiopia and other countries to return home in order to free up space for new arrivals from Yemen.
Outside of internal logistics, there is the reality that travelling is costly and migrants from other countries who are en route back home face the financial implication of transit accommodation and issuance of travel documents of which are all limited in assistance, due to a finite supply. Administratively, certain foreign national are at the short end of the stick, particularly Yemenis as they are expected to stay in a specific refugee camp in Oblock Djibouti while they wait, which gives them limited options.
Somalia on the other hand, has opened their doors to over 7 000 refugees and migrants, 90% of them being Somalia nationals. Others are from Ethiopia, Kenya, Syria and USA – but they still face similar challenges. However IOM Somaliland Operations Assistant Dayib Askar noted that certain nationals can be assisted in ease.
“For many Ethiopians arriving in Somaliland, it can take up to one week or more for them to be issued with travel documents. During this time they need to be supported with food and accommodation. We are trying to speed up this process to help the Ethiopians, in particular,” he stated.