Some 23,000 refugees were living in Djibouti at year's end, including about 21,000 from Somalia and nearly 2,000 from Ethiopia.

About 3,000 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 uprooted more than 100,000 people. A 1994 peace agreement enabled most uprooted families to return home, although rebel factions opposed to the peace accord have engaged in isolated skirmishes.

The estimated 3,000 Djiboutian refugees remaining in Ethiopia at the end of 1998 were nomadic families, making their numbers difficult to ascertain.

Refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia

Most Somali refugees arrived in Djibouti during 1988-90 due to civil war in Somalia. The small Ethiopian refugee population was all that remained of nearly 40,000 Ethiopians who fled to Djibouti years earlier; most repatriated during 1994-96.

About 90 percent of the 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 10,000 lived in Holl Holl camp. Security problems caused the closing of a third camp, Assamo, in March, after landmine explosions near the camp killed three soldiers and a truck driver, and injured five refugees. Assamo residents transferred to the remaining two sites.

In addition, about 2,000 Somali and Ethiopian refugees lived in the capital, Djiboutiville.

Thousands of other Somalis and Ethiopians resided in the capital, but neither UNHCR nor the Djibouti government recognized them as refugees. A National Eligibility Commission to determine refugee status for urban refugees remained largely dormant for the third consecutive year.

Nearly 250 Somalis repatriated from Djibouti with UNHCR assistance during the year. Assisted returnees received the equivalent of about $85 per person.

The 2,000 Ethiopian refugees were almost evenly divided between the camps and the capital. About 300 Ethiopian refugees repatriated with UNHCR assistance during the year. They received an average of nearly $60 per person to facilitate their return.

Government officials expelled up to six Ethiopians in January even though UNHCR had already determined that some of them were bona-fide refugees. UNHCR criticized the government's expulsion. The government reported that it expelled an average of 1,000 Ethiopians per week without determining their possible refugee status.


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