Somali migrants seek a safe home in Djibouti and beyond
Laaska News January 7,2011
United Nations Radio 06/01/2011 Tens of thousands of people continue to flee Somalia as violence continues to grip the Horn of Africa country. Refugees have made their way to camps in Kenya and Djibouti, but for some of these desperate people, a safe haven isn’t enough. They prefer to try their luck at travelling further afield in search of a better life, a decision which can often have fatal consequences.
Daniel Dickinson reports.
SFX_Somali refugees singing and clapping
A warm welcome for visiting officials at the Ali Addeh refugee camp in Djibouti.
The camp is home to 13,000 Somali refugees who arrived here after walking for days along dangerous roads to escape the violence in their homeland.
Deka, who is six months pregnant, has been in Djibouti for only a few weeks and is hoping to gain refugee status. She fled the ongoing fighting that has made Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, a perpetual war zone.
“The will to survive and not being killed by a bomb was stronger than the fear to undertake this difficult trip.”
Deka left Somalia with her family but during the journey she became separated from her husband and three of her five children.
She has no idea where they are, or even if they are still alive.
Each week, hundreds of people like Deka cross the Loyada border point between Somaliland and Djibouti. Their first stop in the country is a reception centre run by the government and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Antonio Guterres heads the agency:
“I think it’s impossible to come here and not to feel very emotional with people who have been in this deserted place for the last 20 years and see no future for themselves.”
At the Ali Addeh camp, Somali refugees find security, but life is harsh there; the camp lacks water, access to education and stable job opportunities.
Many migrants believe they can do better. UNHCR says that hundreds of Somalis and Ethiopians leave each month on boats operated by smugglers in a desperate bid to get to Yemen or Saudi Arabia. Many die on the way. Just a week ago, 40 migrants died when their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen.
Refugee,Ali Muhadin says he is aware of the dangers but will still go ahead with his plans.
“I know very well that maybe I’m going to die. Some of my close relatives and friends have already died. But I have to try.”
UNHCR warns migrants about the dangers of taking smugglers’ boats, but many do not heed the advice
Meanwhile, the agency works on other solutions such as integration into local communities or resettlement in another country.