Thousands flee to Somalia from Yemen war

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A young woman waits at a food distribution in Afgoye, Somalia.  Photo: UN/Tobin Jones

Nearly 30,000 mainly Somalia refugees have been forced to flee war-torn Yemen and return home where the humanitarian situation remains fragile, according to the UN.

In its latest report on Somalia, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA says that the returnees started arriving back in the country in March, after fighting escalated in Yemen.

Three-quarters of the returnees are women and children, OCHA says, and they face uncertainty linked to food shortages and ongoing military conflict.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Since 1991, famine and internal fighting in Somalia have forced the country's people to seek better lives elsewhere.

For tens of thousands of Somalis every year, Yemen has been the logical choice, despite the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden. 

That's because beyond Yemen lies Saudi Arabia, and the chance of work.

Since March, however, this migrant traffic has been put into reverse, as fighting has escalated in Yemen between government and rebel forces.

Now the UN agency OCHA says that close to 29,000 have arrived back in Somalia from Yemen.

Most of them are women and children, OCHA says.

But the problems that forced them to flee Somalia in the first place haven't gone away.

And since mid-July, OCHA says that 18,000 people fled military operations in southern and central Somalia, where Islamist rebels and government troops have clashed.

These security problems have closed what the UN agency calls "significant sections" of major supply routes to humanitarian workers.

That's prevented people from going to market and made them more susceptible to malnutrition and food insecurity, the UN agency warns.

According to the UN agency, 1.1 million people are already displaced in the country.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'10"


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