So­mali refugees re­turn home af­ter or­deal

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

MOGADISHU: The In­ter­na­tional Of­fice of Mi­gra­tion (IOM) has this year repa­tri­ated more than 1 300 So­ma­lis af­ter they faced a se­ries of or­deals try­ing to reach Europe.

The lat­est 316-strong batch of re­turnees reached the East African coun­try this week from Ye­men, across the Ara­bian Sea.

The re­turn ended a five-month or­deal that started in Fe­bru­ary when a smug­glers boat, car­ry­ing hun­dreds of So­ma­lis hop­ing to reach Europe, headed north up the Red Sea along the west­ern coast of Ye­men.

The boat docked once in the south of Ye­men be­fore it was later hit at sea by an­other, killing 40 people and se­verely in­jur­ing 13 others.

Af­ter the IOM in­ter­vened, a pas­sen­ger boat trans­ported the stranded refugees from Ye­men to the Port of Ber­bera in So­ma­lia.

Over the months, while the refugees were wait­ing to leave, the IOM with the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees pro­vided them with med­i­cal care, food and cloth­ing.

“The most vul­ner­a­ble were women and chil­dren,” said IOM spokesper­son Rabih Saried­dine.

Most refugees leav­ing Africa for Europe fall vic­tim to smug­glers and traf­fick­ers, ar­bi­trary de­ten­tion, vi­o­lence and forced labour.

The res­cued So­ma­lis were wel­comed back by their friends, broth­ers and sis­ters. One rel­a­tive, 18-year old Yassin Ab­shir, told CAJ News in Mogadishu: “We thank God that these people man­aged to re­turn alive. We al­ways read and watch news con­cern­ing African mi­grants dy­ing in vi­o­lent seas while those who make it to Europe are abused.”

Hus­sein Salah, 21, from Hargeisa city, said eco­nomic chal­lenges forced young people to try their luck in Europe. “Some of the is­sues in­clude un­em­ploy­ment, poverty and civil un­rest caused by po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity,” he said. CAJ News

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