Written By: Yemen Observer Staff
Article Date: Aug 2, 2012 - 11:18:16 PM
UNHCR hosted the visit of René de Vries, Head of Office in Sana’a for the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) on 24 July 2012 to Kharaz camp in Lahj Governorate to inaugurate the opening of 300 new shelters built through ECHO funding. Construction began in December 2011 and the shelters have now been distributed to 1,260 refugees that had been living in tents for up to six years and were particularly vulnerable.
Mr. De Vries had the opportunity to tour the new shelters and meet with a number of refugees that have already began enjoying a notable improvement in their living conditions.
There are over 19,500 (predominately Somali) refugees in Kharaz camp, and most of the refugees reside in shelters that consist of one room and a latrine.
With the addition of the new shelters there are now 2,011 shelters for 17,000 refugees.
However, some 2,500 refugee still live in temporary shelters.
Since 1991, Yemen has provided shelter to Somali refugees and over time there have been a number of camps set in the southern governorates (Aden, Ta’iz, Lajh, Abyan and Hadramout).
In 1996 the government decided to consolidate the camps and set up Kharaz camp in Lahj Governorate to act as a sole camp catering to the needs of the refugee population. Refugees began residing in the camp in 2000.
Lack of shelter has been an on-going problem in Kharaz camp and has been compounded by limited space and a substantial increase in the camp population.
New arrivals from the horn of Africa continue to flee to Yemen and many have settled in Kharaz camp.
As well, a number of refugees that had previously resided in urban areas relocated to the camp due to civil unrest in the country over the last year that resulted in security and economic challenges.
“UNHCR remains committed to do whatever is possible to continue to improve the living conditions in the camp,” said Naveed Hussain, UNHCR’s Representative in Yemen.
UNHCR has raised the issue of the expansion of the Kharez camp with the Government on several occasions and appreciates the directive the Prime Minister issued to the Governor of Lahaj on 25 June 2012 requesting him to work on the expansion of Kharaz camp.
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