Refugees behind bars said they are not provided with enough food or water – Photo File
By Amal Al-Yarisi, Yemen Times
November 11, 2012
A new report released by the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) found that approximately 51,000 Ethiopian refugees entered Yemen since the end of July.
Yemen has continued to see an influx of refugees from different embattled countries, including Ethiopia. The majority of the Ethiopians enter Yemen illegally by small boats coming from Djibouti, Puntland and Somalia, according to a 2012 report released by the DRC, a private humanitarian group.
Allen Jelich, the DRC manager in Yemen, said Ethiopians often immigrate due to the deteriorating economic situation in their country.
He said the council works to assist Ethiopian refugees in Yemen by helping to improve living standards.
“The situation of the Ethiopian refugees and immigrants has worsened in line with inadequate reporting on these issues,” Jelich said.
There are three groups of Ethiopians in Yemen, he said. The first has job opportunities and stable social relations in the country. The second one plans to spend time in Yemen to collect money for smugglers and then go to Saudi Arabia. The third uses Yemen as a stepping-stone to Saudi Arabia. Jelich said Yemen often hosts immigrants who are illegally smuggled to Saudi Arabia.
The difficulties of the immigrants
The refugees undergo harsh treatment while en route to Yemen.
Criminal gangs manipulate and abuse them to extort money. And at sea crossings, military vessels often attack, according to the report.
The report quoted one Ethiopian girl as saying, “I met with an Ethiopian man in Hodeida. He said he would take me to the Saudi Arabia in return for YR 40,000. After I offered him the sum; he and a group of Yemenis took me to a distant place and beat me until they broke my hand.”
The report mentioned another story of an Ethiopian man who traveled in 2011 by a small boat with seventy others; among them there were young girls. On the boat, there were four Yemeni smugglers who publicly raped the girls and then sold the girls to Yemenis who exercise human trafficking, according to the report.
Yemen is receiving a constant stream of immigrants from many countries at a time when Yemen itself is passing through a transitional phase and enduring a deteriorating economy.
“Nowadays, Yemen has its own national economic concerns,” Jelich said.
Fawzi Al-Zyood, the project manager for the International Organization for Migration, said Yemen faces huge challenges with regard to accommodating these immigrants.
“Yemen has been sharing the suffering with these refugees,” Al-Zyood said. “We thank Yemen for doing that. There should be coordination between the Ethiopian and the Yemeni governments in regard to aiding the Ethiopian refugees.”
The report found that Yemenis complain about the involvement of the Somalis in insurgent groups and terror organizations, which contributes to Yemeni disapproval Ethiopian migration to the country.