Over 3000 Somali Refugees Receiving Protection in Eritrea: UNHCR

Over 3000 Somalia refugees currently living inside the Umkulu refugee camp in Eritrea
UNHCR staff verifying details of Somali refugees in Emkulu camp, eastern Eritrea


According to the March 2014 fact sheet released by UNHCR Eritrea, over 3000 Somalia refugees currently living inside the Umkulu refugee camp near the port city of Massawa while other refugee groups from Sudan and South Sudan lives in the urban areas getting the required protection and assistance.

The report indicates that the encamped Somali refugees have been in Eritrea for almost two decades and have not yet found durable solution due to lack of availability of livelihood opportunities within the camp, lack of interest in voluntary repatriations as well as problems with the in-country case-processing mechanisms by resettlement countries such as Canada, Australia, and USA. 

Access to asylum and protection of the State of Eritrea for individual non-Somali asylum seekers is currently not open. For that, non-Somali groups enjoy a relatively higher level of socio-economic integration with out being formally recognized as refugees by the State of Eritrea.

According to UNHCR Eritrea, Somali refugees who are granted prima facie status by the  State of Eritrea enjoys a level of protection that is overall satisfactory.

Since 2011, however, a reflection on the strategic direction of the UNHCR operation in Eritrea resulted in reorienting the program provided to Somali refugees in Eritrea from protracted care and maintenance to solutions, socio-economic integration and self-reliance.

Following the assessments on a multiyear livelihoods strategy, plan of action are being developed to improve refugees’ stay in Eritrea while awaiting durable solutions, mainly resettlement and voluntary repatriation including local integration opportunities.

On 27 March 2014, for instance, a group of 39 Somali refugees (15 cases) moved to the Emergency Transit Facilities (ETF) in Hummene, Slovakia for further resettlement processing to the USA. That puts the total resettlement departures from Umkulu refugee camp for the years 2013 and 2014 at 528 individuals.

In 2012, Eritrea signed the 1969 OAU Convention on the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa but has not yet ratified it. It has also not acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. State owned refugee status determination and asylum procedures are not yet in place either.

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The full report can be found here: UNHCR Eritrea
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