Smuggling Season                       

 

 

SMUGGLING

SEASON

 

OCTOBER 2006

 

A Somali man washes his clothes at a temporary refugee shelter one day after landing on the coast in Bir Ali along with 112 Somali refugees in Mayfa'a, Yemen, October 10, 2006. At least 54 people have died making the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen since the beginning of last September, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN)

 

Two Somalis rest at a temporary refugee shelter one day after landing on the coast in Bir Ali as part of 112 Somali refugees in Mayfa'a, Yemen, October 10, 2006. At least 54 people have died making the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen since the beginning of last September, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN)

 

A Somali boy rests at a temporary refugee shelter one day after landing on the coast in Bir Ali along with 112 other Somali refugees in Mayfa'a, Yemen, October 10, 2006. At least 54 people have died making the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen since the beginning of last September, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN)

 

 

   

  

Surge in People Smuggling From Somalia to Yemen Nears 6,000 Since September - UN

 

October 20, 2006

 

 Oct 20, 2006 (UN News Service/All Africa Global Media) -- Despite a crackdown in Somalia's Puntland region, hundreds of Somalis, Ethiopians and Sudanese are still resorting to smugglers' boats to make the perilous and sometimes fatal journey across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, with the total nearing 6,000 in the past seven weeks, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.

 

"Passengers on one boat reported that five Ethiopians were beaten by the smugglers, thrown overboard and attacked by sharks in view of the others on the vessel," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva.

 

"Upon arrival on the Yemen coast, the smugglers forced 25 Ethiopians to remain onboard one of the boats because it had developed engine trouble and their weight was required to maintain balance for the return voyage to Somalia. They have not been seen since," he said.

 

Of the more than 5,700 arrivals since early September, 3,314 Somalis, 200 Ethiopians and two Sudanese were transported to UNHCR's May'fa reception centre near Bir'Ali in southern Yemen. There, they received medical care, food and assistance from UNHCR and its partners.

 

For the whole four-month period of the so-called smuggling season at the start of the year the total was 10,500, with hundreds reported to have been hurled overboard to drown by gun-toting traffickers. Some 60 people are reported to have died and 85 are missing since the smugglers once again began sailing the rickety, overcrowded boats with the onset of calmer weather at the beginning of September.

 

UNHCR has repeatedly called for international action and donor support to tackle the root causes of the smuggling, including protection for the victims and prosecution of smugglers. The migrants are mostly men who cite insecurity, drought and economic hardship reasons for leaving.

 

In Somalia, UNHCR yesterday began interviewing and counselling Ethiopians following an accord with Puntland authorities allowing it to identify potential asylum-seekers. The agreement follows reports that 1,300 Ethiopians were sent back to their country after Puntland authorities issued a decree last month aimed at stopping the smuggling.

 

"Our six-member team in Bosaso (in Puntland) has already started to conduct interviews with a group of some 600 Ethiopians who are being held at a mosque in Bosaso by the Puntland authorities," Mr. Redmond said. "There are an estimated 50 unaccompanied children among them. We are sending a specialist to Bosaso determine their needs and status." The authorities estimate that there are at least another 3,000 Ethiopians currently in Puntland. UNHCR will also proceed with screening this group.

 

2006 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved

 

 

  

East African refugees thrown to the sharks: UN

 

October 20, 2006

 

 GENEVA, Oct 20, 2006 (AFP) - At least 126 East Africans died or went missing while they were fleeing across shark-infested waters to Yemen in recent weeks, sometimes after being thrown overboard by smugglers, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.

 

"Passengers on one boat reported that five Ethiopians were beaten by the smugglers, thrown overboard and attacked by sharks in view of the others on the vessel," said Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

 

Since the beginning of the seasonal exodus in early September, during calm sea conditions on the Gulf of Aden, UNHCR staff have counted 5,700 Ethiopians, Sudanese and Somalis arriving by 56 boats in Yemen.

 

The large majority were from Somalia.

 

Sixty-four people were killed and 62 were missing, based on eyewitness accounts from fellow refugees and reports from Yemeni authorities, the agency said.

 

The Ethiopian refugees who were thrown to the sharks were part of a group that included 853 who arrived in Yemen on eight boats on October 13 and 14.

 

"Upon arrival on the Yemen coast, the smugglers forced 25 Ethiopians to remain onboard one of the boats because it had developed engine trouble and their weight was required to maintain balance for the return voyage to Somalia," Redmond said.

 

"They have not been seen since," he added.

 

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006.

 

 

 

 

3,500 People Risk Yemen Trip in First Month of New Smuggling 'Season' - UN

 

October 06, 2006

 

Oct 06, 2006 (UN News Service/All Africa Global Media) -- With some 35 smuggling boats carrying over 3,500 people on the sometimes deadly trip from Somalia to Yemen in the past month, the United Nations refugee agency today reiterated its calls for international action and donor support to tackle the root causes of the problem, including protection for the victims and prosecution of the smugglers.

 

At least 54 people have died and 60 others are missing since the smugglers once again began sailing rickety, overcrowded boats across the Gulf of Aden with the onset of calmer weather at the beginning of September, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported.

 

The new arrivals said a smuggling crackdown by local militia and police was under way in Bossasso, in the self-declared autonomous state of Puntland, north-eastern Somalia. They told UNHCR staff in Yemen that many people irrespective of nationality, gender or status had allegedly been sent to Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, or detained in Bossasso, apparently as a result of a Puntland decree banning human smuggling.

 

UNHCR has repeatedly called for international action and donor support to tackle the root causes of people smuggling in the Gulf of Aden, including protection for the victims and prosecution of smugglers. "Any crackdown should target the smugglers, not the refugees, asylum seekers and desperate migrants they prey upon," UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva.

 

Earlier this year UNHCR launched an awareness campaign in Puntland aimed at potential passengers warning them of the dangers involved in using smugglers to cross the Gulf of Aden. Despite these efforts, many people continue to take the risk and some are dying before reaching shore.

 

The UNHCR has repeatedly cited reports in which smugglers have killed their passengers. Last month refugees on one boat reported that 15 people died during the voyage, 10 of them beaten to death by the smugglers with wooden and steel clubs. The bodies were thrown overboard.

 

The smuggling increased significantly in the first four months of this year when 10,500 Somalis and Ethiopians made the perilous journey and hundreds were reported to have been hurled overboard to drown by the gun-toting traffickers.

 

The migrants are mostly men who cite insecurity, drought and economic hardship in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan as reasons for leaving. The fees charged by the smugglers dropped by 50 per cent in late September but have reportedly gone up again, from $50 to $70, in the last few days. With the Bossasso crackdown, boats now appear to be leaving from other departure points along the 700-kilometre Puntland coastline.

 

2006 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved

 

  

 

Large Numbers of Ethiopian, Somalis Cross Gulf of Aden

 

October 07, 2006

 

Oct 07, 2006 (The Reporter/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Despite a smuggling crackdown in Somalia, large numbers of people continue to cross the Gulf of Aden, with almost 600 Somalis and Ethiopians landing on the Yemeni coast last Sunday alone, UNHCR reported.

 

Since the start of the September to March sailing season, at least 35 smuggling boats carrying 3,536 people have crossed from Somalia to Yemen. On the first day of October, five boats carrying 575 Somalis and Ethiopians landed near Bir Ali in Yemen. But at least 54 people have died making the perilous voyage, and 60 are missing.

 

UNHCR has repeatedly called for international action and donor support to tackle the root causes of people smuggling in the Gulf of Aden, including protection for the victims and prosecution of smugglers.

 

"We are concerned that any crackdown, however, be carefully targeted and not lead to the detention or return to danger of people with protection needs," she added.

 

UNHCR earlier this year launched an awareness campaign in Puntland aimed at warning potential passengers of the dangers involved in using smugglers to cross the Gulf of Aden. But many people continue to take the risk and recorded arrival figures are way up on the same period last year.

 

"It is deeply disturbing to see such high numbers early in the sailing season - a 100 percent increase from last year's arrivals around the same time," said Saado Quol, UNHCR's senior protection officer in Yemen.

 

"Despite our attempts to warn the displaced and the world about the massive risks and the cruelty of the smugglers, people just seem too desperate to leave their homes and risk their lives in order to find safety or better opportunities," he added.

 

In September, some 526 asylum seekers, mostly Somalis, were transferred to Al Kharaz camp, about 100 km west of Aden. Al Kharaz has more than 9,100 Somali and Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers cared for by UNHCR.

 

Many of the survivors, who are mostly men, cite insecurity, drought and economic hardship in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan as reasons for leaving their countries. Most of the Somalis making the journey are from the southern and central regions of Mogadishu and Baidoa, lower Juba and central Shabele. The Ethiopians originate mostly from Addis Ababa, Shoa, Arsi, Bale, Harar, Tigray, and the Ogaden region.

 

2006 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

Somali refugees sell meat under a tree at the Kharaz refugee camp in southern Yemen August 8, 2006. Hundreds of Somalis and Ethiopians lose their lives on their way to Yemen every year as human-traffickers haul them across the Gulf of Aden on overloaded boats. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN)

 

Somali children walk in the Kharaz refugee camp in southern Yemen August 8, 2006. Hundreds of Somalis and Ethiopians lose their lives on their way to Yemen every year as human-traffickers haul them across the Gulf of Aden on overloaded boats. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN)

 

Somali refugees chat outside their tent at the Kharaz refugee camp

in southern Yemen August 8, 2006. Hundreds of Somalis and Ethiopians lose

their lives on their way to Yemen every year as human-traffickers haul them

 across the Gulf of Aden on overloaded boats. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN)

 

 

 

 

 

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