Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2017, 11:43 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Djibouti

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2000
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Djibouti , 1 June 2000, available at: [accessed 23 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 23,000 refugees lived in Djibouti at year's end, including about 21,000 from Somalia and nearly 2,000 from Ethiopia.

About 1,000 Djiboutian refugees remained in Ethiopia.

Djibouti Politics and Insurgency

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 uprooted more than 100,000 people, including several thousand who fled to neighboring Ethiopia.

A 1994 peace agreement enabled most uprooted families to return home, although rebel factions opposed to the peace accord continued to engage in isolated skirmishes.

In 1999, Djibouti's presidential elections appeared to reinforce the country's progress toward peace. The UN secretary general reiterated in July that the overwhelming majority of Djiboutian refugees have returned home and encouraged international donors to support economic development for the country and its half-million citizens.

Djibouti's insurgency has not disappeared completely, however. Insurgents and government troops reportedly clashed in April, and rebels reportedly attacked a military garrison in July, with deaths on both sides. Three landmines allegedly placed by insurgents killed ten people, including six police. Djibouti's president accused Eritrea of supporting Djiboutian rebels.

Refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia

Most Somali refugees arrived in Djibouti during 1988-90 because of civil war in Somalia.

The small Ethiopian refugee population of about 2,000 was all that remained of nearly 40,000 Ethiopians who fled to Djibouti years earlier to escape their country's civil war; most repatriated during 1994-96 after the civil war ended.

The overwhelming majority of Somali and Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti resided in two camps near the country's borders with Somalia and Ethiopia. Some 11,000 lived in Ali Adeh camp; about 9,000 lived in Holl Holl camp. About 2,000 Somali and Ethiopian refugees lived in the capital, Djiboutiville.

Thousands of other Somalis and Ethiopians resided in the capital, but neither the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) nor the Djiboutian government recognized them as refugees. A National Eligibility Commission to determine refugee status for urban refugees remained inoperative for the fourth consecutive year.

As in previous years, refugee camp residents received basic aid from UNHCR in 1999, including food and shelter, health services, and education.

About 150 Somalis and 160 Ethiopian refugees repatriated from Djibouti with UNHCR assistance during the year. Ethiopian returnees received transportation grants plus the equivalent of $30 per person to facilitate their return home.

A report by the UN secretary general in 1999 stated that the refugee and immigrant population in Djibouti "has placed enormous strain on the meager resources" of the impoverished country. Refugees and immigrants "consume more than 50 percent of the Djiboutian health services," the UN report said.

Violence briefly erupted in May between unemployed local citizens and Ethiopian residents of Djibouti, including refugees. In a separate incident, authorities detained two prominent ethnic Oromo Ethiopian refugees; UNHCR continued to negotiate for their release as the year ended.

The Djibouti government reported that it regularly rounded up and deported as many as 1,000 undocumented Ethiopian immigrants each month. UNHCR interceded to gain the release of registered refugees occasionally detained in the deportation sweeps.

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