Conflict, drought and violence in the Horn of Africa have forced many to seek protection in Djibouti. Its position has also made it a transit country and the main route for migration towards Yemen and beyond.
Djibouti hosts about 31,096 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly Somalis, Ethiopians, Eritreans and, lately, Yemenis fleeing war. Harsh climatic conditions, drought and floods continue to displace people in the region and push them to cross the border to Djibouti.
The country has been dealing with multiple crises, including recurrent droughts, locust swarms, flooding, and epidemics of malaria and chikungunya. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has seriously strained the country's heath system and put already very poor households under additional economic stress.
High pressure on weak services in camps, rural and urban areas has left an increasing number of people with little access to basic services and water.
People we helped in Djibouti in 2021
We provide lifesaving support to refugees, host communities and internally displaced people, and we coordinate closely with other regional country offices.
In Djibouti, we work on crisis support as well as disaster and climate-related displacement, all of which affect both refugees and Djibouti nationals. In 2017, we published a report urging the government to allow refugees to work. The government has since passed a new law that gives refugees access to health, education and employment.
During flash floods in November 2019 and April 2020, we played a vital role in providing immediate assistance to victims. To better support the national refugee response, NRC has handed over day-to-day operation of water and sanitation services to the Ministry of Water Resources, and provides technical support to the Ministry to ensure refugees and their host communities continue receiving quality services.
Livelihoods and food security
Refugees have little to no work, opportunities or income earning alternatives. Limitations on income generating opportunities negatively affect household and community dynamics, and constitutes a protection risk. Food insecurity is driven by droughts and other natural hazards like flooding. The Covid-19 outbreak and global food pricing changes have also negatively affected food access and affordability.
Our livelihoods activities target both refugees and host communities with:
- cash grants and in-kind kits for small business start-ups
- training on microenterprise and business management
Shelter and settlements
As crises continue in neighbouring countries including Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen, refugees in Djibouti require better housing to shelter them through their time in displacement. Our shelter teams:
- through cash assistance, construct permanent shelters for refugees and poor members of the local community
- repair damaged shelters for refugees and improve shelter designs and materials, to sustain extreme weather
- provide training to refugees on shelter construction so they can fully participate in the construction process while earning a living
- provide emergency shelter kits for new arrivals and distribute non-food items
- rehabilitate and upgrade refugee settlements
- construct centres for girls and women
- rehabilitate shelters/latrines for vulnerable urban populations affected by floods
- respond to destruction caused by flash floods by distributing cash grants/vouchers for non-food items
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) promotion
We support the Ministry of Water Resources to provide WASH services in refugee settlements and host communities. Our WASH experts provide technical support to the Ministry of Water Resources to:
- supply safe water to refugee settlements through monitoring and water treatment
- construct household latrines, including those which are suitable for people living with a disability
- distribute rechargeable solar lamps
- distribute hygiene and dignity kits and provide instructions on how to use them
- run awareness campaigns and give training on sanitation and hygiene practices
- rehabilitate boreholes, shallow wells and water systems, using solar energy where possible
- construct hand washing stations in schools, health centres and public institutions
- provide training to WASH committees, camp leaders and staff of the Ministry of Water Resources
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
We support the National Refugee Office (ONARS) in providing legal information and assistance aligned with the comprehensive refugee response framework (CRRF). Our ICLA team:
- provide information on Djibouti employment regulations, rights and taxation
- run sensitisation workshops around the CRRF and durable solutions
- facilitate access to essential services and advocate for access to identity documents and other forms of civil documentations
- organise group information sessions, mass awareness campaigns and distribution of information materials
- Julia Taft/US Embassy in Djibouti
- German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO)
About NRC in Djibouti
We survived Cyclone Sagar
Twenty-eight-year-old Deka Ahmed and her three children are among the many residents of the capital of Djibouti who suffered damages and loss of property in the cyclone that ruined livelihoods and contaminated waters across the country.