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Escaping Danger into Uncertainty: The Voyages of Migrants out of Yemen into Somalia

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By Dayib Abdirahman Askar, IOM Somalia

Mohamed is originally from Jigjiga, Ethiopia. He was living in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.

“I was working at a hotel in Sana’a. I am married and have a one-year-old son.”

Then fighting broke out and Mohamed says there was a fight between two armed groups.

“We spent many days with no food and no water. I was unable to go to work since the fighting so we left Sana’a and arrived in Mokha by car.”

Mohamed says he travelled with one other family and they did not use the usual roads. “We went through checkpoints and had to avoid normal roads. It took us some days to get to Mokha and we had to pay USD 250 for my family to take the car.”

Mohamed and the group took a boat for two days before arriving in Berbera Somaliland. They had to part with USD 50 per person to get onto the boat that finally brought them to Somaliland.

“We were two families who got in the vehicle from Sana’a to Mokha and once we were in Mokha we joined more than a hundred people on the boat that brought us to Berbera. We managed to escape with no harm.”

Mohamed now hopes to join his father in Jigjiga and start a new life. But by the time he arrived in Berbera he had no money left.

“I cannot support my family to get back to Ethiopia on my own,” he says.

Naima is originally from Burao, Somaliland and she has also arrived in Berbera fleeing the conflict in Yemen with her eight-month-old baby girl. Just like Mohamed, she too lived in Sana’a.

“I lived with my husband who is a student and still in Sana’a,” Naima said. “My husband refused to come with us. He is still in Sana’a waiting for a certificate of his studies.”

Naima too used the same route as Mohamed to get to Berbera in Somaliland.

Naima wants to join her mother in Burao but worries still remain. “I don’t know if my husband will be okay or not.”

For now Naima also needs support to get her home to her family.

IOM is supporting Mohamed, Naima and many others to go back home safely. IOM teams are assisting migrants and third country nationals that are fleeing fighting in Yemen into Somaliland and other areas in the Horn of Africa.

IOM provides medical screening of new arrivals, accommodation, food, medical assistance and onward transportation assistance to vulnerable stranded families at the reception center in Berbera, Somaliland.

“The people arriving from Yemen have varying urgent needs. IOM is working with partners to register, screen and identify the most vulnerable,” said Craig Murphy, IOM Regional Project Coordinator for the Horn of Africa.

“Migrants are provided with food, water, and transferred to a reception center for transit accommodation and onward transportation. IOM is building its capacity to provide effective and timely assistance to the migrants arriving in Somaliland fleeing the Yemen Crisis,” added Murphy.

As of 20 April, 787 people arrived through Berbera port in Somaliland while 1,132 arrived in Puntland through the Port of Bosasso and the remote coastal areas of Alula and Bargal. Most of the arrivals are Somali nationals as well as a few Yemeni nationals.

International Organization for Migration
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