Somali Ethiopian Families in Bosaso Struggle as UNHCR Halts Education Support
Families composed of Somali Ethiopians residing in the Washinton camp in Bosaso are facing a sudden and distressing shift in circumstances. This comes as a result of the cessation of financial support for refugee children’s tuition fees from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The affected families, including approximately 3,000 students from these families attending the Ugas Yasin School in Bosaso, are now scrambling to find alternative solutions for the continuation of their children’s education.
The predicament of Mohamed Haybe Hassan, a father of five, brings the severity of this situation into sharp focus. Hassan and his family relocated to the Washinton camp in 2019 after leaving Yemen, where they had lived as refugees since escaping instability in the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2005. Since their arrival in Bosaso, Hassan, a former pastoralist, has been supporting his family through casual labour. Yet, with the withdrawal of UNHCR aid, he is deeply troubled about the education of his children who have been forced to drop out of Ugas Yasin School due to lack of financial support.
Reclassification of Refugees
The Puntland’s interior ministry is reportedly planning to reclassify approximately 5,000 Somali Ethiopian families in Bosaso as internally displaced persons (IDPs) rather than refugees. The intention behind this reclassification is to grant these families better access to services and rights. However, no official commitment has been made yet, leaving these families in a state of uncertainty.
The withdrawal of UNHCR educational aid has a significant impact on families like Hassan’s. Abdi Mohamed Haji, another resident of the Washinton camp, had been paying for his children’s school fees until he fell ill with diabetes and lost his job. He had hoped to obtain tuition support from UNHCR, but with the aid withdrawn, his children’s education hangs in the balance.
Education plays a crucial role in the lives of these children, providing them with opportunities for a better future. However, the lack of financial support is a major barrier to education for these refugee children, putting their future prospects at risk.
Local Authority’s Plan to Integrate Families
Following the cessation of support from UN agencies, Mohamed Ali Mohamed, the director for IDPs and Refugees at Puntland’s interior affairs ministry, has indicated that the local authority aims to integrate these families into local society. The proposed plan includes providing housing and free education to these families in recognition of their long-term residence in Puntland and their integration with the locals.
While the chances of resuming UNHCR tuition aid seem slim, alternative solutions to ensure the continuation of the children’s education are being sought. This situation underscores the importance of consistent and reliable support for refugees and displaced people, particularly in sectors such as education which directly impacts their future prospects and well-being.
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