Djibouti occupies a strategic position in the East and Horn of Africa region. The country is politically stable and hosts an international military presence. It is a hub for naval forces combating piracy in one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, where the Red Sea joins the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Djibouti is also located at the crossroads linking Africa to the Middle East.
As a consequence of armed conflict, insecurity, violence, poverty and natural disasters in the East and Horn of Africa region, Djibouti has become an important country of passage for migratory movements. Thousands of asylum-seekers mixed with economic migrants enter or pass through Djibouti on a regular basis. Identifying people with protection needs in these flows remains a daunting task for UNHCR and the authorities.
Continued fighting between Islamist insurgents and the Transitional Federal Government in south and central Somalia and the drought and famine which are currently affecting parts of the Horn of Africa region, have brought the number of Somali arrivals in the country to some 800 a month, representing a considerable increase.
In the past, most newly-arriving refugees were accommodated in the Ali Addeh camp, which had reached maximum capacity. In 2011, the Government of Djibouti authorized the reopening of the former site of Holl-Holl.
The aim has been to reduce congestion in Ali Addeh camp, and accommodate the constantly rising number of new arrivals. Indeed, the new site offers better living conditions and greater availability of water.
UNHCR and the Government of Djibouti are working to ensure that Somali refugees, most of whom are recognized on a prima facie basis, are duly registered. Non-Somali (mostly Eritrean and Ethiopian) asylum-seekers will be given access to refugee status determination (RSD) procedures with the reactivation of the National Commission for Eligibility. UNHCR will work closely with the authorities to revive the Commission. UNHCR will continue registering Somali refugees at the Loyada border, where there is a reception centre. A total of 400 people from Ethiopia and Eritrea will be considered for RSD. To keep an effective cooperation with national autorities, regular training and capacity-building workshops need to be carried out for law-enforcement officials and border guards.
The supply of potable water remains a challenge. Currently, refugees have only 13 litres of water per person per day. The aim is that during 2012 all refugees will receive more than 18 litres per person per day.
Due to the drought conditions in the East and Horn of Africa region, Ali Addeh and Holl-Holl camps are likely to face a reduction of groundwater which may result in a severe water shortage. To keep the supply of water available to the refugees, UNHCR will purchase two water tankers and three water desalination units.
UNHCR will also work closely with its partners to maintain adequate health, nutrition, and sanitation services in the camp at Ali Addeh while improving the same at the new site of Holl-Holl.
As high unemployment in Djibouti and conflict in south and central Somalia thwart possibilities for solutions, UNHCR will pursue resettlement as an alternative to voluntary repatriation and local integration. For 2012, the Office plans to submit 350 cases, or 1,200 people for resettlement. The increase in needs is due to the growth in the refugee population with new arrivals, mostly from south and central Somalia.