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Cablegate: Djibouti Faces Continued Influx of Somali Refugees Despite

VZCZCXRO0689
RR RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDJ #0223/01 0701811
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101811Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9068
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3781
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3352
RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000223

SIPDIS

STATE FOR PRM/AFR AND USAID
ADDIS ABABA FOR REFCOORD
NAIROBI FOR NESTES AND REFCOORD
GENEVA FOR KPERKINS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREF PREL SMIG SO ET DJ XA

SUBJECT: DJIBOUTI FACES CONTINUED INFLUX OF SOMALI REFUGEES DESPITE
UNHCR REPATRIATION

1. SUMMARY: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) reports a continued influx of refugees from south and
central Somalia to Djibouti. Meanwhile, UNHCR completed the
repatriation of 1,853 Somali refugees to Somaliland. END SUMMARY.

REFUGEES FROM SOUTH AND CENTRAL SOMALIA
---------------------------------------

2. According to UNCHR, a steady influx of Somalis from south and
central Somalia continues to arrive in Djibouti daily. Figures
collected by UNHCR and ONARS (Office National pour l'Assistance des
Rfugis et Sinistrs - the GoDJ office in charge of refugee
affairs) show that a total of 2,000 asylum seekers arrived at the
Djibouti border since January 1, claiming to have fled the conflict
in southern Somalia. This sum totals UNHCR expected projected
figure for all 2008.


3. The refugees arriving at Loyada, the main border checkpoint
between Djibouti and Somaliland, claim to have paid up to $250.00
for transportation. Others pay with jewelry or use other valuables
and possessions. There have been reports of sexual violence against
women during their journey. Those who cannot afford to pay walk the
800 kilometers to find safety and security in Djibouti, particularly
since the Kenyan border remains closed and the security situation is
uncertain.

4. As refugees reach Somaliland, they are not allowed to stay. At
the border point before leaving Somaliland, they have to pay $50.00.
If they manage to get to the no-man's land between Somaliland and
Djibouti, they are approached by traffickers who offer to take them
to Yemen and beyond, or to Eritrea. Also, smugglers offer services
to get them through mountain paths into Djibouti, to avoid the
official border checkpoints. The majority who make it to Djibouti
among these recent arrivals are young men, who tell stories of
leaving their wives and children because the journey is too
difficult.

5. On January 27, the UNHCR Special Advisor on the Somalia
Situation, Wairimu Karago, visited the main Djibouti/Somaliland
border crossing at Loyada, accompanied by the UNCHR Representative
in Djibouti and the Government of the Republic of Djibouti (GoDJ)
officials. The delegation witnessed approximately 100 south/central
Somali asylum-seekers crossing the border.

6. The joint mission met with both police and military commanders at
the border, who confirmed the presence of new arrivals in the no
man's land area between Djibouti and Somaliland and led the joint
mission to the group. With the assistance of the border officials,
the joint mission identified 62 families/122 persons all originating
from Mogadishu and its surrounding areas. Most of the group's
members were single males between the ages of 16 and 35. There were
few women with young children. No unaccompanied minors had been
identified among the group. Based on information collected from the
group's members, they traveled by road from northern areas of
Mogadishu via Galkayo and eventually through Hargeisa, Somaliland.
Those interviewed claimed that they had fled from their homes
because of continuous fighting and fear of Ethiopian troops. They
also added that they could not remain in Somaliland due to lack of
protection and assistance. According to the refugees, more people
would be heading towards the Djibouti border.

7. Border officials reportedly confirmed a continuous daily flow of
30-40 asylum-seekers trying to cross into Djibouti. They welcomed
the proposal of having a permanent GODJ presence (ONARS) at the
border, to facilitate the prompt and coordinated transfer of
asylum-seekers from Loyada to the Ali Addeh refugee camp.

SOMALILAND REFUGEES' REPATRIATION
---------------------------------

11. On December 31, 2007, UNHCR reported the successful completion
of the voluntary repatriation of an estimated 1,853 Somaliland
refugees from Djibouti to Somaliland, with the cooperation of ONARS,
Somaliland authorities, the World Food Program and other
implementing partners. The first six convoys departed from
Ali-Addeh refugee camp. The last convoy included 242 former
refugees from Holl-Holl. The refugees were taken with their
personal effects to a way station, 130 km from Ali Addeh in Djibouti
to Zeila Somaliland,that had been built for the reception of the
returnees, distribution of food, non-food items and $40 cash
grants.

12. COMMENT: Post is concerned about the south/central Somali

DJIBOUTI 00000223 002 OF 002


refugee influx, and will continue to closely monitor host government
and UNHCR actions to handle the situation. END COMMENT.

13. REFCOORD Kent Healy has cleared this cable.

SYMINGTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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