Somaliland: Malnutrition and Conflict Worsen the Status of Ethiopian Refugees in Yemen

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Thousands of Ethiopian refugees live in Yemen

Somaliland Sun- :The Ogadeni refugees living in the Yemen’s capital, Sana’a and Al-Kharaz camp, about 120 kilometers of the Southern town of Aden are suffering and the conflict have aggravated the plight of at least 500 families, who were already facing acute food shortage and could not return to their homeland for fear of detention, torture and possibly persecution.

On Monday, more than a dozen of women from Ogaden region of Ethiopia gathered in front of the UNHCR’s Bureau for the Refugee Affairs (BRA) to raise their concerns with the UNHCR staff at the Algerian Street Sana’a.The UNHCR’s door is closed and nobody answers most of the cases, except few cases, like mandate renewal or receiving new clients, a process that takes up to two years.

The Ogadeni community in Sana’a numbers approximately 300- 500, of whom most of them registered with the UNHCR. Around 100 families from Ogaden live in Al-Kharaz Refugee in the South of Yemen, registered with the UN as refugees from Somalia.

Most of the refugees are women who have to bring up their families single-handed: their husbands are either in Ethiopian jails or have been killed by the government forces. They work as maidservants and are paid 150 dollars per month.

Scores of Ogaden asylum-holders took a risk in returning, however, their fear was justified: Upon their return to Ogaden region, they have been detained, tortured and charged in connection with ONLF-sympathizers for carrying UNHCR documents with them. They are serving four years term in the notorious prison better known as ‘Jail Ogaden’,in the regional capital of Jigjiga, about 80 kilometers Eastern of the city of Harar, in which torture and execution are routine.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sana’a, Yemen has already ignored their plight and they receive less attention from the International Community and UNHCR’s donors.

Moreover, the local UNHCR’s cruel treatment of the African Refugees and asylum seekers is horrible and shameful.The refugees are treated as they are criminals and the security guards behave as prison guards.The guards, who receive orders from the UNHCR’s
local staff whose their backgrounds are half-caste Ethiopian-Yemenis and Somali Yemenis, often beat women with their batons, intimidate and harass the young African men in front of their loved ones.

A true account of tragedy, suffering, and grave injustice

“My mother and my brother were executed in front of my eyes and I escaped when their bodies were displaying in the scene. I was terrified and escaped from Ogaden to Yemen by way of Djibouti,” said Raha, who asked that her full name not be used for fear of reprisal.” “My father is detained and being tortured day and night because of me.”

Yusuf Googaar Somalilander second to left with Bruno Gedo a former UNHCR Representative in YemenJailers of Raha’s father wanted him to demand his daughter’s return to keep the story hidden from the rest of the World so that they would either kill her or place her in custody.

Ms. Raho shared her story with the UNHCR’s protection unit run by local UNHCR, Mohamed Omar and Muna whose their backgrounds are half-caste Ethiopian-Yemenis but she received a rather unpleasant response from them.

Raha suffered a minor injury during air strike carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Faj Attan area of the Capital and their house rocked by a huge explosion in April Last year. She is only an example of many refugees suffering under Johannes Van Der Klaauw’s UNHCR.

Most refugees felt helpless after their former leader Yusuf Goggaar from Somaliland and his wife allegedly executed by poison. Another Somali Christian father likely died of poisoning. He left behind a son of his and his bible.The gangsters that are eliminating the voice of the voiceless refugees remain unknown to the wider Yemeni community and the rest of the World.
According to refugees, there is no any independent body overseeing what the UNHCR Yemen do on the ground level. And no private human rights organizations that could put pressure on UN to do the right things.

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