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No Aid Drove Yemeni Man to Self-immolation, Friends Say


Jehad Mohamed, 25, set himself on fire using gasoline and a match outside the UNHCR office in Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, Oct. 6, 2015. (photo: B. Kariye)

Jehad Mohamed, 25, set himself on fire using gasoline and a match outside the UNHCR office in Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, Oct. 6, 2015. (photo: B. Kariye)

The friends of a Yemeni man who set himself ablaze Monday say he took the action because he did not receive support promised to him by the U.N. refugee agency.

Jehad Mohamed, 25, set himself on fire using gasoline and a match outside the UNHCR office in Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared republic of Somaliland. Security guards and other refugees put out the flames and Mohamed was rushed to a local hospital.

When visited by VOA reporter in the hospital Tuesday, Mohamed was lying on a bed, unable to speak. But the injuries from the fire could be seen on his body.

His friend and a spokesman for Yemeni refugees in Somaliland, Nabil Salem, said Mohamed is one of at least 1,500 refugees from Yemen who did not receive the support they require from aid organizations.

“At least they have no home, nothing to eat, they have nothing actually,” he told VOA Somali Service reporter Barkhad Kariye.

“He was staying in the mosque for a long time where charitable people helped. He went to the UNHCR office several times seeking for help, but got no help, despite promises.”

Mohamed suffered injuries to the lower parts of his body, and his condition is said to be serious but stable.

People fleeing the conflict between the government and Houthi rebels in Yemen began crossing to Somalia and Somaliland earlier this year, reversing a long-term trend.

Most were Somalis returning after years as refugees in Yemen, but a few thousand are Yemeni nationals, who grew so desperate at home they decided war- and drought-ravaged Somalia might offer a better quality of life.

The Somaliland government has been helping the Yemenis. But local human rights activist Hibaq Gamute says the refugees need more.

“They need to get more help, more than what they have,” she said.

The UNHCR office in Hargeisa could not be reached for comment.

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