Many Somali refugees have decided to return home from Yemen because of the worsening security situation, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR reports. Last week, 125 refugees boarded a ship to return to Somalia.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR says that a total of 4,298 Somali refugees have been brought back home since the launch in 2017 of an Assisted Spontaneous Return (ASR) program in cooperation with the agency's humanitarian partners and authorities in Yemen and Somalia.
In the latest departure happened on May 29: A boat carrying 125 Somali refugees left Aden and arrived at the Port of Berbera in Somalia a day later. The men, women and children on board returned in time for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which is observed at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
'The situation for refugees has worsened'
Those who returned home included Somalis who had been born in Yemen to refugee parents.
"With Yemen being the world's largest humanitarian crisis and civilians facing life-threatening conditions, the situation for refugees and asylum seekers and migrants has deteriorated significantly," UNHCR said.
In Yemen, a civil war has been waging since 2015. More than 20 million people living there are food insecure, half of them are suffering extreme levels of hunger, according to the United Nations.
An estimated 3.3 million people in Yemen have been displaced.
There are also roughly 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in Yemen. About 90 percent of them are from Somalia.
The UNHCR explained: "Refugee movements from Somalia to Yemen have been taking place since the 1980s. They continued following the outbreak of civil war in Somalia [in 2009], with many fleeing generalized violence and individualized fear of persecution in addition to the consequences of drought and a lack of livelihood opportunities."
250,000 Somali refugees in Yemen
Yemen currently hosts the world's third largest Somali refugee population, according to UNHCR. It is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula that has signed the UN's 1951 refugee convention and 1967 refugee protocol.
Ensuring the health and safety of refugees in Yemen has become increasingly difficult because of the prolonged civil war.
In May, Somali refugees were among those injured when strikes hit Yemen's capital, Sana'a. The UN agency says that it has been approached by more and more refugees asking for help in returning to Somalia.