Escaping Danger into Uncertainty: The Voyages of Migrants out of Yemen into Somalia


Naima arrived in Berbera fleeing the conflict in Yemen with her eight-month-old baby girl. © IOM 2015

By Dayib Abdirahman Askar

Naima is originally from Burao, Somaliland and she has arrived in Berbera with her 8 months old baby girl fleeing the conflict in Yemen.  She lived in Sana’a with her husband.

“I lived with my husband who is a student and still in Sana’a,” Naima said. “My husband refused to come with us. He is still in Sana’a waiting a certificate of his studies.”

Naima too used the same route as Mohamed to get to Berbera in Somaliland.

Naima escaped Yemen with the group travelling by road before taking a boat for two days to in Berbera.

Originally from Jigjiga, Ethiopia, Mohamed was living in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a when fighting broke out and Mohamed says there was a fight between two armed groups. © IOM 2015

Mohamed who is originally from Jigjiga, Ethiopia was part of that group. Just like Naima, he too lived in Sana’a until the conflict escalated.

“I was working at a hotel in Sana’a. I am married and have a one-year-old son.”

Then fighting broke out and Mohamed says there was a fight between two armed groups.

“We spent many days with no food and no water. I was unable to go to work since the fighting so we left Sana’a and arrived in Mokha by car,” Mohamed describes their journey.

Mohamed says they travelled with one other family and they did not use the usual roads.

“We went through checkpoints and had to avoid normal roads. It took us some days to get to Mokha and we had to pay $250 for my family to take the car.”

After arriving in Mokha, the group had to part with $50 per person to get onto the boat that finally brought them to Somaliland.

“We were two families who got in the vehicle from Sana’a to Mokha and once we were in Mokha we joined more than hundred people on the boat that brought us to Berbera. We managed to escape with no harm.”

In Berbera they are at a reception centre waiting for assistance to travel back to their respective families.

Naima wants to join her mother in Burao but worries still remain.

“I don’t know if my husband will be okay or not.”

Mohamed hopes to join his father in Jigjiga and start a new life. But by the time he arrived in Berbera he had no money left.

“I cannot support my family to get back to Ethiopia on my own,” he says.

IOM is supporting Mohamed, Naima and many others to go back home safely. IOM teams are assisting migrants and third country nationals that are fleeing fighting in Yemen into Somaliland and other areas in the Horn of Africa.

IOM provides medical screening of new arrivals, accommodation, food, medical assistance and onward transportation assistance to vulnerable stranded families at the reception center in Berbera Somaliland.

“The people arriving from Yemen have varying urgent needs. IOM is working with partners to register, screen and identify the most vulnerable,” said Craig Murphy, IOM Regional Project Coordinator for the Horn of Africa.

“Migrants are provided with food, water, and transferred to a reception center for transit accommodation and onward transportation. IOM is building its capacity to provide effective and timely assistance to the migrants arriving in Somaliland fleeing the Yemen Crisis,” added Murphy.

As of 20 April, 787 people arrived through Berbera port in Somaliland while 1,132 arrived in Puntland through the Port of Bosasso and the remote coastal areas of Alula and Bargal. Most of the arrivals are Somali nationals as well as a few Yemeni nationals.


IOM teams are assisting migrants and third country nationals fleeing fighting in Yemen into Somaliland and other areas in the Horn of Africa. © IOM 2015