Sunday, July 11, 2010

Refugees in Somalia


The Somali Civil War, ongoing for 19 years, has turned Somalia into one of the largest countries without government. This war, together with recent droughts and floods, has forced 1.4 million people to leave their home and move to other regions in this country. Besides this internal migration, there are some other 560,000 people who have sought shelter in neighbouring countries like Ethiopia, Kenya or Yemen.
We are used to reading about large numbers of refugees and displaced people in Africa and Central Asia, but sometimes we are not aware of the real meaning of these figures. Well then, let’s picture in our mind what it means: it is as if the whole population of the Spanish region Castile-La Mancha (2,038,191 inhabitants in April 2010) were forced from their homes into tents spread in Murcia, Valencia, Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia. Moreover, if we take into account that Somalia has just about 8 million inhabitants (approx. 8,228,000 in 2005), it means that 23% of Somali people are refugees or displaced. Following the Spanish example, this percentage would include the whole population in Castile-La Mancha plus Andalusia, Ceuta and Melilla: almost 11 million people living in refugee camps far from home.

Sources:

  1. UNHCR Newsletter of February 2010 published by ACNUR Spain, the Spanish delegation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (spanish):
    http://www.eacnur.org/media/docs/BoRef_FEB-10_baja.pdf 
  2. Population figures of the Spanish National Statistics Institute (April 2010) (spanish):
    http://www.ine.es/jaxiBD/tabla.do?per=01&type=db&divi=EPOB&idtab=4
  3. Demographics and other data of Somalia (estimate in 2005):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somalia
 

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