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Somalia, 16 April 2018: Displaced by war, Khayria, a Yemeni refugee, found refuge at a shelter funded by Japan

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Sebastian Rich
Khayria Abdiwahab Yahye, 17, a Yemeni refugee, dreams the day when she can be reunited with her family. Hargeisa, Somaliland.

HARGEISA, 16 April 2018 – Khayria Abdiwahab Yahye, 17, is a refugee from Yemen. She came to Somaliland nearly two years ago amidst the civil war back home.

“I came by boat,” she says. “I was going to school in another town away from my family. When the fighting grew worse, I ran back home but found no one there – people told me my family had fled. Some neighbors were planning to go to Somaliland. I couldn’t think of any other way but to join them.”

When Khayria arrived in Berbera, the main port of Somaliland, she was met by thieves who stole everything from her. She lost money, her belongings, and, what’s more devastating was her mobile phone that had all her family members’ contacts. Thanks to a kind stranger, she was brought to Hargeisa and placed in a shelter run by WAAPO, a UNICEF partner that provides child protection services to women and children.

“This is a special case,” says Shukri Herir, chairperson of WAAPO. “She has nowhere to go. She has no family to go back to, knows no one here, and she also didn’t speak any Somali when she first arrived.”

Under the care of Shukri and her staff, Khayria has been staying at the shelter, together with other women and children with whom the NGO supports. She goes to school, as well as vocational training classes, excelling in everything she does. Her Somali has improved tremendously. And her heart condition has also been tended to.

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Sebastian Rich
Khayria (centre) plays with two young residents of the same shelter she is staying. The shelter is run by UNICEF partner WAAPO, with funding provided by donors, including Japan.

But what Khayria cares about the most is her family. To date, all the family tracing efforts have not yielded any leads, and that frustrates Khayria increasingly.

“I miss my family, especially mum” she says. “I don’t know whether she is alive or dead. This is the first time I have been away from her for so long. Please, help me find her and the rest of my family!”

In 2017, UNICEF and partners, supported by donors including the Government of Japan, supported some 4,200 unaccompanied and separated children with vital services. However as the effects of drought persist throughout the country, such work remains critical in order to protect and support tens of thousands of vulnerable children and women.



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