March 26, 2007

African Refugees in Yemen

Here's a report about the Horn of Africa and the Middle East in which it's difficult to figure out who the good guys are. The UN estimates that 30,000 refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia and other places have been smuggled into Yemen since January 2006.

The UN refugee agency announced Friday that over the past six days, Yemen has again received more than 1,100 Somalis and Ethiopians who arrived on smuggling boats from Bosaso, Somalia, across the Gulf of Aden.

The refugee agency added that according to information received so far at least 28 people died during these recent voyages -- from asphyxiation, beating or drowning -- and many were badly injured by the smugglers.

Others are suffering from various skin problems from prolonged contact with sea water, human waste, diesel and other chemicals. They are not allowed to move during the voyage.

So, refugees are being smuggled into Yemen and the trip comes with a very real chance of death, injury or sickness. And, then there's this:
When spotted by the Yemeni armed forces the smugglers on one boat in an attempt to distract the forces threw 35 Somalis into the water and took the remaining 215 passengers, many with their hands bound by ropes, closer to the shore where they were forced to disembark.
I find it hard to believe that "refugees" being smuggled into Yemen would have to have their hands bound by ropes. "I'm escaping, tie me up," is rarely voiced in my estimation.

Prisoners or slaves are bound, yes, but not refugees. Therefore, I suggest that the smugglers are dealing in human cargo consisting of prisoners or slaves who, presumably, have to be coerced or conned onto the boats. That's thirty-thousand prisoners/slaves in a little over a year!

Uh -- so where are they going? Some person or group in Yemen must be waiting to take the thousands of prisoners/slaves to their ultimate destination. Where, I don't know.

Nevertheless, despite what the human cargo consists of, the people pipeline is interrupted when Yemeni security forces get involved and chase down the smugglers. It's at that point, the prisoners/slaves (my contention) appear to become refugees and a problem for the government of Yemen to resolve. Furthermore, according to the UN, Yemen is patiently awaiting payment for the hospitality it shows to the "refugees."

Yemen has kept its doors open for refugees and migrants who have been arriving for several years from war-torn Somalia and other places.

Yemen has also been very patient in awaiting more support in recognition of its generosity and in the spirit of burden-sharing.

Isn't that innovative? The UN is Yemen's shill.

In summary, the reported influx of "refugees" to Yemen appears to be a forced illegal migration of humans for some unknown purpose. How else could it be explained? If the Somalians and others were true refugees, they would not need to be bound and beaten. And, if Yemen was such a generous nation, security forces wouldn't be sent out to impede the pipeline of refugees crossing the Gulf of Aden.

Jawa contributor Jane Novak of Armies of Liberation provides some followup insight on the subject.

Things in Somalia are so bad that many people willingly make the trip to Yemen in hopes of improving their lot. After that the refugees often migrate to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.Some stay in Yemen in squalid refugee camps, others are disbursed through the nation, and they form a second class in Yemen.

Normally what happens is the smugglers let them off near shore and they swim in. They come in at various points along the coast. So unless there was someone there to recieve them, I'm not sure how they would retain custody. The fact that they are tied up may be a mechanism of maintaining control during the voyage, as this is a regular business for the smugglers. It's my impression most come willingly and retain their freedom once in Yemen but I am going to check the slavery thing.

What does dovetail with your thinking is the smuggling of Yemeni children to Saudi Arabia, often with their parents consent. These kids come from extremely poor families and are often as young as four. Once in SA, some beg, some face sexual abuse and some become slaves. Some who beg may be disfigured by their handlers to draw more sympathy and thus more money.

And, the story continues.

Companion post at Interested-Participant.

By at 05:59 AM | Comments |