Halimo is 36 year old mother of four boys. She lives in Section 5 of the Ali Adde Refugee Camp. She was born in Mogadishu, she escaped to save her life after deadly armed violence broke out in 1991 following the fall of the Siad Barre regime. Photo by Nashon Tado/NRC
Read caption Halimo is mother of four boys and lives in the Ali Adde Refugee Camp. She was born in Mogadishu, but escaped to save her life after deadly armed violence broke out in 1991. Photo: NRC/Nashon Tado

NRC in Djibouti

In the Horn of Africa, Djibouti hosts tens of thousands of refugees from across the region.


Total # of refugees from the country:
Total # of refugees to the country:
Total # of internally displaced:
New refugees from the country in 2016:
New refugees to the country in 2016:
New internally displaced in 2016:
Source: UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The figures are from the beginning of 2017.

Humanitarian and political background

Recent unrest in Ethiopia has sparked a flow of refugees into Djibouti, with at least 5,000 new arrivals register at the Ali Added and Holl Holl camp. Here NRC has been working along UNHCR to provide lifesaving services refugees focussing on WASH, shelter as well as food security and livelihoods. The recent wave of new arrivals from Ethiopia adds to an already large refugee caseload for a small country like Djibouti.

Since the conflict broke out in Yemen in March 2015, Djibouti experienced a large influx of refugees, migrants and returnees. The impact of the El Niño climate phenomenon, meanwhile, has resulted in recurrent and long periods of drought throughout the country.

 NRC established its presence in Djibouti in 2013.

Protracted displacement situation

The recent unrest in Ethiopia and the conflict in Yemen has added to the already large presence of refugees in the country. As of November 30, 2016, a total of 5,1000 people arrived in Djibouti from Ethniopia, adding to the large influx from Yemen that arrived late 2015/early 2016.

The recently arrived refugees from Ethiopia have been settled in Ali Added and Holl Holl camps where existing services for the refugees were already overstretched. Ali Added camp, originally designed to host less than 15,000 people, now hosts close to 17,000 refugees including 4,000 new arrivals.

Djibouti also hosts some 20,000 refugees, mostly Somali, who have been in the country for more than 20 years. The majority reside in Ali Addeh and Hol Hol refugee camps. For those displaced long-term, the prospects of finding durable solutions are limited. Given the security situation in Somalia, there are very limited prospects for Somali refugees to return.

Food insecurity and climate change

Djibouti suffers from severe resource scarcity, exacerbated by recurrent periods of drought and the impact of the El Niño climate phenomenon.

Approximately 155,000 people in Djibouti are food insecure. Successive years of lack of rain have damaged pasture zones, killed livestock and forced large parts of the pastoralist rural population to abandon their livelihoods and move to urban areas.

A difficult life

More than 60 per cent of the country’s population of about one million now live in and around the capital, Djibouti City. Close to 400,000 live in slums on the edge of the city with minimal basic services, including clean water. Food prices in urban centres are high and poor households rely on food assistance and remittances from abroad to survive.

I have no one in Djibouti. All my family and loved ones are still in Yemen, and all I want is to return to be together with them again.

Salima, Yemeni refugee, Al-Rahma orphanage, Obock


Scarce resources often cause conflict between the local population and the displaced. Rising food insecurity will likely cause higher rates of severe acute malnutrition among children under age five. Competition for access to the country’s limited natural resources, particularly in areas with large numbers of refugees and migrants, is also likely to increase.

People we helped in Djibouti in 2016

people benefited from our shelter programme
people benefited from our WASH programme

NRC in Djibouti

Through our Djibouti programme, we give emergency and long-term support to refugees and displaced persons inside the country.

Our programme in Djibouti is part of our regional response in the Horn of Africa, and we coordinate closely with our other operations in the region. We carry out projects with our partners UNHCR and the Djiboutian Government's National Department for Assistance to Refugees and Affected Populations (ONARS).

NRC has three operational offices, in Djibouti City, Ali Sabieh and Obock.

Our team in Djibouti works on crisis support as well as disaster and climate-related displacement, which affects both refugees in Djibouti and Djibouti nationals. NRC reaches
out to the most vulnerable communities affected by displacement.


Food security

Our food security activities target both refugees and the local communities hosting them.

Our food security teams:

  • Provide cash grants to support small businesses and start-ups.
  • Give training on microenterprise and business management.
  • Donate livestock to farmers and give training on animal production, marketing and health.
  • Give vocational skill training to youth in refugee camps.



As crises progress in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen, refugees in Djibouti need better housing to shelter them through their time in displacement.

Our shelter teams:

  • Construct permanent shelters for refugees and poor members of the local community, made of steel and cemented pillars.
  • Improve shelter designs and materials, to last through extreme weather.


Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

We bring clean water, sanitation and hygiene to displaced and local communities in Djibouti. NRC is the main provider of WASH services in Djibouti’s three refugee camps.

Our WASH experts:

  • Supply safe water to refugee camps.
  • Operate waste management in camps.
  • Construct sanitation facilities.
  • Distribute hygiene kits and instructions on how to use them.
  • Run awareness campaigns and give training on sanitation and hygiene practices.

Budget 2017
11.7 million NOK
International staff
Field offices
Ali Sabieh and Obock
Budget 2016
16.8 million NOK
National staff

NRC in Djibouti

Country Director

Muhumed Hussein


+254 714 347 222