10/16/2006versione stampabileprintinvia paginasend

Since September, 3,500 migrants have crossed the Aden Gulf. 54 have died.
On Sunday the Somali authorities repatriated more than 1,300 Ethiopian migrants who were due to arrive in Yemen by boat. This is the first attempt to stop the trafficking of humans across the Aden Gulf, something that has reached record levels since September. Ethiopians were stopped by the authorities whilst they tried to board opportune fishing boats in the autonomous state of Puntland, and were then deported to Galadi along the Ethiopian-Somali border. Since September, at least 3,500 people have tried to make the crossing of hope. We can be sure that there are 54 dead, whilst the number of missing people is at least 60.

Warning. By 10th September, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) raised the alarm to the worrying influx of migrants heading for Yemen, estimated at one hundred people a day. The number of people in need is growing constantly, and along with this so is the strength of the human smuggling networks. The boats come from Bossaso, Puntland’s main port in the northeast of Somalia. UNHCR has organised an information campaign to try and limit the migration, warning displaced people of the dangers of the crossing. They have made an informative video and have urged the Puntland authorities not only to stop human trafficking but also to improve services to assist the thousands of displaced people in the country.

Migranti a un punto di approdo poco distante da Bossaso Refugees. Most of the migrants that attempt the perilous crossing to the Aden Gulf come from Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, regions torn apart by wars and humanitarian crises that have produced tens of thousands of displaced people, who naturally fill up the Somali coasts in the hope of reaching Yemen. Most of the people who land here are trying to get to countries in the Persian Gulf, the rest to Europe. In general the cost of the 300 kilometre sea crossing is between 40 and 70 dollars, which is not an easy sum for people that arrive in Somalia with nothing to get together. The highest risk during the crossing comes from the traffickers themselves, who often become violent and leave the passengers along the Yemeni coast for fear of being intercepted by the Sanaa authorities. Yemen is one of the few countries in the region that has signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, and thus it has become one of the most desired destinations for East African refugees. According to UNHCR’s latest figures, there are 88 thousand registered refugees, 84 thousand of which are Somali.

Controversies. The Ministry of Human Rights in Sanaa has recently stated that there are 750 thousand African migrants in Yemen, but it added that UNHCR does not take care of them, constricting the Yemen authorities to provide for their basic needs. Some tens of thousands of African refugees are crammed into the Kharaz refugee camp in then governorate of Lahij, but many more illegal immigrants are scattered all over the Cities of Arabia Felix, without a job, without the right to services and without any kind of social protection.
Naoki Tomasini
Topic: Refugees, Migrants
Area: Yemen