Olivera with group of Ogaden refugeesThe peoples of the Horn of Africa have frequently had to seek refuge in neighbouring states. The conflicts (internal and external) that have afflicted their nations have scattered Ethiopians, Somalis and Eritreans across the face of the earth. This is true of Ogadenis, many thousands of whom have sought shelter in Yemen. Now this community has taken the opportunity to thank the UN refugee agency for the support they receive.

Honouring Unhcr Yemen

By Ahmed Abdi

Senior Officials from UNHCR and its partners were honoured for their work at Refugee Community Center (RCC) in Sana’a, the capital city of Yemen, on Monday.

“We are undeniably grateful to the UNHCR and its partners for the work they have done serving our people,” said community leader Sayid Lukman in his speech before the lunch given in their honour.

“Today I am happy to show our appreciation and thanks for always being there for us. You really aware the danger and difficulty circumstances faced by anyone n when he or she leaves their home behind and taking the risk of travelling through sharked invested seas on overcrowded boats. Nobody chooses to be a refugee, but circumstances force them to become one.”

The Ogadeni community in Sana’a numbers approximately 2500, of whom 1850 are registered with the UNHCR. Around 100 families from the Ogaden live in Al-Khalaz Refugees in the South of Yemen, registered with the UN as refugees from Somalia.

Mr Lukman presented three individuals from UNHCR and International Relief & Development ( IRD) certificates of appreciation from several thousands of Ogadeni refugees in Sana’a. This Olivera and Abdikaderincluded honouring Drs Wafa, for her work in helping patients to receive proper medical treatment and Mr Abdikader, a Somali national from UNHCR partner of IRD showed the refugees great kindness and excellent service.

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 government forces. They work as maidservants and are paid 150 dollar per month.

One of those honoured was Olivera Markovic, a resettlement Officer at UNHCR .

“For me, receiving this certificate is like getting OSCAR”, said Markovic on getting the award. “But what is more important to me is touching the hearts of refugees and I want to thank you for honoring us and your recognition of our work for you.” Dozens of refugees cheered her award.

The Ogadeni community have lived in Yemen since 2007. A very small number have managed to be resettled in the United States, with the Americans taking around 20 this year.

In December, 2013, UNHCR and its IRD partner helped refugees to hold elections in bid to select their own community leaders and UNHCR’s Samuel Kirungi introduced an action plan for the year few weeks later.

“I want to thank you first for showing unity like any other refugees among you and helping your community as well as working with the other African refugees. I really appreciated how well you helped your community where the help needed. Though, much things yet need to be done this year was better than last year and the next year will be much better,”said Samuel Kirungi , a community Services Officer at UNHCR .

“My fellow Ogadenis’, said Mr Kirungi, “As a former American president truly stated , ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!” “I say to you – ask what you can do for your community to help them, not what they can do for you.” Mr. Kirungi’s face shone with happiness as his words were translated by an interpreter.

Adventist Development and Relief Agency or ADRA’s English Coordinator, Cyanne Becker , was invited to participate in the event since she takes a lion’s share when it comes to the educational improvement for the refugees and the fight against HIV-AIDS .

Addressing to exuberant crowd, “Without your collaboration we could not achieve as much”, said Cyanne, a little shyly.


Ahmed Abdi is a freelance writer , Over the last couple of years , Mr. Abdi produced an enormous series of publications across dozens of local , regional and international portals. He can be reached at halgan85@yahoo.com