Dozens of Yemeni refugees fleeing the fighting and Saudi-led airstrikes in Yemen have arrived in the northern parts of Somalia, local officials and the U.N. said on Tuesday.
At least 32 Yemenis arrived by sea in the northern breakaway area of Somaliland and the semiautonomous Puntland region on Saturday, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
Some 12 Yemeni families arrived at Berbera port on the Gulf of Aden after traveling from Yemeni’s third largest city of Taiz, where warplanes had carried out strikes targeting the Houthi rebels, Omar Abokor, the deputy manager of Somaliland’s Berbera port, told reporters on Tuesday.
The arrival of the Yemenis is in stark contrast to the usual flight to Yemen of hundreds of Somalis escaping violence and poverty at home.
Yemen hosts more than 238,000 Somali refugees, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
Concerns were also being raised in Somalia over a potential backlash against Somali refugees in Yemen after the Somali government expressed support for the Saudi-led air strikes against the Houthi fighters in Yemen.
Somalia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week that it stands by the Yemeni government in its war against the rebels whose insurgency forced Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee his country last week amid a rebel advance on the southern city of Aden.
The Somali government’s decision to publicly support the assault on the Houthi rebels may endanger the lives of Somalis living in Yemen, said Hassan Abdullahi, a university lecturer in Mogadishu who studied in Yemen.