Somali author Nuruddin Farah reminds us that the lives of many Africans is highly precarious. For the refugee living in a country other than his/her own,this is even more the case. Indeed, Farah's comment is a direct quotation from a Somali refugee living in a Kenyan refugee camp at the beginning of the 1990s. The man had fled Somalia in 1991 after ethnic and clan conflict broke out in the country as a result of the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre's regime in January of that year. Ironically, the man had headed up a refugee camp for Ethiopians in Somalia from 1981 to 1989. At one time, Somalia was host to a constant stream of immigrants, with Ethiopians forming more than a quarter of the national population (Farah, 2000). After dispensing care to refugees for many years, the man found himself a refugee.
This example illustrates that the life of the refugee is indeed precarious: refugees are largely dependent on external assistance from the international community, the host government and locally based non-governmental organisations. It is also indicative of the close human and geo-spatial relationships that exist among the peoples of the Horn of Africa. If there are refugees in Djibouti, it is because of inter-regional and national conflicts, in addition to natural disasters, in the neighbouring countries of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.
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