Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2017, 14:54 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1998 - Djibouti

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 January 1998
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1998 - Djibouti, 1 January 1998, available at: [accessed 17 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Some 22,000 refugees were living in Djibouti at year's end, including about 20,000 from Somalia and 2,000 from Ethiopia.

About 5,000 Djiboutians were believed to be refugees in Ethiopia.

Refugees from Djibouti Members of the country's Afar clan began an armed insurgency in 1991. The government, controlled by the Issa clan, launched a 1993 military offensive that pushed up to 15,000 Djiboutians from the country and left as many as 100,000 people internally displaced. The two sides signed a peace agreement in 1994, although rebel factions opposed to the agreement have engaged in isolated skirmishes.

By 1997, most of the displaced and refugee population appeared to have returned to their homes. The government reiterated its call for remaining refugees to repatriate in early 1997, and small numbers did so. New violence late in the year reinforced tensions, however. Military personnel allegedly persisted in occupying the homes and property of some refugees, discouraging their return.

Refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia The small country of Djibouti has received influxes of refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia since Djibouti gained independence in 1977.

The actual number of refugees in the country has long been disputed. A March 1997 census counted about 20,000 Somali refugees and 2,000 Ethiopians in three designated camps. Their presence in the camps gave them prima facie refugee status in accordance with government policy. Djibouti officials continued to claim that tens of thousands of additional refugees were living in the capital, Djiboutiville. UNHCR estimated far fewer urban refugees.

A National Eligibility Commission to determine refugee status for urban refugees continued to exist, but has rarely functioned during the 1990s.

Most Somali refugees arrived during 1988-90 because of civil war in their own country. The small Ethiopian population was all that remained of nearly 40,000 Ethiopian refugees who fled to Djibouti years earlier, most of whom repatriated during 1994-96.

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