From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Nov 01 2009 - 14:43:17 EST
SOMALIA-YEMEN: Record high of African arrivals
SANAA, 1 November 2009 (IRIN) - The past 10 months saw the highest number of
Africans reaching Yemeni shores over figures for the same period in 2008 and
2007, when large numbers began travelling to Yemen by boat, according to the
UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
More than 56,600 people arrived on 1,100 boats to Yemen from the Horn of
Africa so far this year, already exceeding the total for all 2008, when
50,091 people crossed, Rocco Nuri, an external relations officer at UNHCR,
told IRIN on 31 October.
"This is a stunning 40 percent increase in comparison with the same 10-month
period last year when 40,540 boat-carried people arrived. [This year], 281
people drowned and another 152 have been missing and presumed dead after
their boats capsized in the Gulf of Aden," Nuri said.
Santiago Perez, country representative for NGO the Danish Refugee Council
(DRC), said there were several factors causing this growing influx of
Africans to Yemen. "We're detecting an increasing number of displaced people
who say they are coming to Yemen fleeing climate disasters like drought,
untimely and torrential rains, as well as conflict and poverty," he said.
He added that rapid population growth in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, was
also "responsible for the phenomenon".
Because of this greater demand for the trip across the Gulf of Aden,
smugglers have doubled their fees. "The money paid for smuggling by boat has
jumped from US$50 to $100 per person these days," Ahmad Akam, a Yemeni coast
guard official, said.
The total number of new arrivals by the end of this year is likely to hit
70,000 as sea conditions are becoming milder, according to Akam.
UN agencies in Yemen and their implementing partners have developed
contingency plans to provide assistance to 20,000 extra arrivals - on top of
the 50,000 already planned for in 2009.
"UNHCR has improved the capacity and conditions of its reception centres in
Mayfaa and Ahwar, on Yemen's southern coastline, and established a presence
through its implementing partners in Bab al-Mandab on the Red Sea," Nuri
He added that in order to provide a dignified burial for those who do not
survive the boat journey - due to rough sea conditions, drowning and
mistreatment by smugglers - UNHCR had secured three cemetery plots in
Hadhramout, Shabwa and Abyan governorates to bury bodies washed ashore.
A September report by UNHCR said there were 162,362 registered refugees in
Yemen, 153,080 of whom were Somalis.
Photo: <http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=86830> Muhammed
According to UNHCR, of the 162,362 refugees in Yemen at the end of
September, 153,080 were Somalis (file photo)
Photo: <http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home> UNHCR/K.McKinsey
Small fishing boats such as this one carry up to 125 people when used to
smuggle migrants from the Somali coast across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen
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