Sheikh Nur Barud Gurhan, chairman of a rescue committee set up to help refugees returning from Yemen, said they do not intend to set up camps to accommodate them in Mogadishu. Radio Ergo’s Fowzia Omar Barre spoke by phone to Sheikh Nur, who said the best thing to do was help them return quickly to their original homes in Somalia.
Sheikh Nur: Our committee was formed to raise money for the returning refugees. We conduct campaigns among the society encouraging them to play a role in assisting their fellow Somalis escaping conflict in Yemen. We have received many pledges, but we have not yet taken in all the money. We are getting ready to receive more evacuees in the coming days. A ship sent by a Somali businessman to evacuate refugees in Yemen is expected to arrive tomorrow [Thursday]. We are also expecting other refugees coming from Bosasso today.
Ergo: What have you done so far?
Sheikh Nur: We are in the early phase of this process. We will have to intensify our effort once that ship docks at Mogadishu seaport tomorrow.
Ergo: You said you are engaged in fundraising campaigns. What have you received so far?
Sheikh Nur: Over USD 170,000 pledges have been made, but we have so far received USD 30,000. We’re expecting those who made pledges to fulfill on time.
Ergo: Do you know how many people have arrived in Mogadishu so far?
Sheikh Nur: We don’t have an exact number for now. 95 people arrived by plane the other day. But there are people who sponsored their trips to Bosasso and Berbera via Djibouti.
Ergo: What are you planning to do with the funding you have received? Are you going to resettle the new arrivals or do you want to send them to their respective regions?.
Sheikh Nur: We don’t have a final decision. We work with aid agencies. For example, the 95 people who arrived the other day were assisted by a humanitarian agency, which also gave them some small grants. Our plan is not to create new refugees by setting up new camps, but to assist the people temporarily and send them on to their original homes.
Ergo: You said through the media that you would accommodate arrivals for up to three days and then release them. Is that not short for refugees who have been out of the country for a long time?
Sheikh Nur: They fled to Yemen running from bullets here in the first place. Now that they are in their native country, they should know how to manage their lives. We’ll do for them whatever we can afford and help them go back to their original homes.
Ergo: So your plan is to accommodate them for the first few days and then take them to their home towns?
Sheikh Nur: Our plan is to rescue refugees from the ongoing violence in Yemen by either hiring boats or ships for their evacuation. I’m urging all Somalis both inside and outside the country to help us in assisting their fellow citizens fleeing the conflict in Yemen.