Group of Somali Refugees Repatriated [Archives:2001/17/Local News]

April 23 2001

A press release by Sana’a UN Information Center mentioned that during the month of March 2001, 2750 Somali refugees in the Gahim refugee camp registered for repatriation to Somalia and signed voluntary repatriation forms. The camp is located in the South of Yemen and run by UNHCR, The facilitation of repatriation to Somalia is part of UNHCR’s operation in Yemen, and available for all Somali refugees who want to return to their country of origin. Authorities in Mogadishu, through UNHCR Somalia office, cleared the first group of 1,600 repatriates bound for Mogadishu.
Accordingly, UNHCR, Yemen arranged for air transport of the first group of repatriates. In order to ensure exact number of repatriates who would leave and to ensure timely completion of pre-departure procedures, refugees were transported by the travel agency and temporarily sheltered in a transit center in Aden. The center is managed by Partners for Development (PAD) an implementing partner for UNHCR. The refugees, who arrived on April 13, 2001, were provided food and other facilities at the transit center.
On the departure day April 16, 2001, at the transit center, some of the refugees agitated creating law and order problems because they didn’t want to accept the repatriation grant of US$ 30 per person for a maximum of 5 family members. The refugees were aware that the sum of US$ 30 per person for a maximum of 5 family is their entitlement which has not changed from previous operations since June 1999. After several discussions it was settled that this group of camp refugees were not the same as those in urban areas and should therefore receive a repatriation grant of US$ 50 per person irrespective of the family size. The refugees, however did not accept the decision.
After a number of interventions from government authorities and UNHCR, the refugees finally agreed to leave for the airport. On April 17, 2001 the plane took off for Mogadishu with 117 passengers.
The repatriation operation was monitored from the beginning till departure at the airport by UNHCR International and National Staff Sub-Office Aden in order to ensure its voluntary character.