Ethiopians continue to look outside of their “double-digit growing” country for better life
BY LISA SCLEIN | VOA NEWS
The United Nations migration agency reports that thousands of Ethiopian migrants continue to make the perilous journey to war-torn Yemen in search of better economic opportunities despite the dangerous security conditions.
Despite the ongoing war and general insecurity in Yemen, the country remains a major transit point for thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa.
Desperately poor migrants risk their lives to cross the Mandab Strait and reach Yemen, from where they move on to the Gulf countries in hopes of finding work.
The International Organization for Migration reports more than 87,000 migrants, most of them Africans, arrived in Yemen last year.These journeys were facilitated by smuggling networks.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman said this human trafficking continues to flourish.
He said four boats, carrying 602 migrants, mainly men and women from Ethiopia, arrived off the coast of Yemen Friday. He said three boats reportedly arrived with all their passengers on board. Millman said that was not the case for the fourth vessel, which initially had 117 people on board.
“Only 95 arrived. We understand that passengers on the boat had been dropped into deep water and forced to swim to shore. No bodies have been recovered, but 22 remain unaccounted for…Our staff says it is extremely unusual to have four boats with this number of migrants arriving at the same time, at the same location,” he said.
Most of the Ethiopians head to Yemen from Djibouti. Millman told VOA that IOM staff there try to inform the migrants of the dangers that lie ahead, including the strong currents in the strait. Unfortunately, he said most people do not pay attention to these warnings.
Of the more than 100 migrants who arrive in Djibouti every day, he said only about 10 agree to go home and not make the dangerous sea crossing to Yemen.
UN: 22 Ethiopian Migrants Missing Off Yemen
Twenty-two Ethiopian migrants are missing after being dumped in the sea off Yemen, the U.N. International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the missing people were on one of four boats that brought 602 Ethiopian men and women to the coast of Yemen’s Shabwa governorate in the past 24 hours.
“We understand that passengers on the boat had been dropped into deep water and forced to swim to shore. No bodies have been recovered but 22 remain unaccounted for,” Millman told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva. He gave no further details of the incident.
“Despite the difficult security problems in Yemen, it’s still a migrant transit point and we’re still hearing about these reports pretty frequently,” he said.
Last year 87,000 migrants went to Yemen, mainly ferried from Djibouti.
Most are thought to be heading for richer parts of the Arabian Gulf rather than stopping in Yemen, which has been devastated by a civil war and an economic collapse that has pushed more than 8 million people to the brink of famine.
Within Yemen, more than 85,000 people have been displaced since the start of December, mainly from Hodeidah and Taizz governorates, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.
“Current military escalations on the west coast are leading to hundreds of people having to flee their homes on a daily basis,” UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said.
Most of the displaced people were being hosted by relatives or friends, trapped inside homes or in caves as ground clashes, aerial bombardment and sniper fire rage around them, she said.
“In addition to new displacement from the western coast, UNHCR is also observing a spike in new displacement from other frontline areas, including Yemen’s border governorates of Al Jawf and Hajjah, and also in Shabwa in the east,” she said.