Somali refugees who fled their country for Yemen to escape war and poverty are facing similar turmoil in their adoptive country and now want to return to their homeland.
About 30,000 have been able to return to Somalia, some with the help of the Somali business community.
This abandoned university in the port town of Mukallah has become home to thousands of Somali refugees and displaced Yemenis, caught up in the conflict that has engulfed Yemen since early this year.
Nurto, a mother of seven, has been living in Yemen for more than 12 years. She said she can no longer care for her children and wants to return to her native Somalia.
“Since the fighting started there is absolutely no way I could work. Everyone is on the run, us, the Arabs — the United Nations — there was no one left to help us. We waited, hoping things will cool down but it seems nothing changed. So we’ve decided to return to Somalia whether we live or die,” she said.
Houthi rebels have been fighting the government in Yemen for nearly a year. However, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations have launched airstrikes against the rebels, ousting them from a string of towns in southern Yemen.
Mohamed Abdullahi, a Somali fisherman and a father of six, fled with his family from the port town of Aden. He is among the thousands who were trapped in the fighting.
“I was a fisherman when I was living in Aden, I earned a living for my family through fishing. But once the fighting commenced, there was absolutely no way I could continue working,” said Abdullahi. “Me and my family were trapped in Aden for more than three months.”
A ship — sent by Somalia’s business community with the help of international aid agencies — brings back more than 2,500 Somalis.
They boarded this ship for a thirty-hour voyage from Mukallah to the Somali town of Bossasso. Most were women, young children and the elderly.
In Somalia at last, their hope is that the federal government will resettle them and guarantee their security so they can build a better life in coming years.