Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ethiopian refugees missing off Yemen coast

Fri Feb 9, 2018 06:33PM

Smoke billows in Yemen's Aden, as fighters from the separatist Southern Transitional Council move closer to taking full control of the southern city, on January 30, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Smoke billows in Yemen's Aden, as fighters from the separatist Southern Transitional Council move closer to taking full control of the southern city, on January 30, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says 25 Ethiopian refugees have gone missing after being forced into the sea as they approached the coast of Yemen.
The men were on one of the four boats that ferried Ethiopians to Yemen on Thursday, Mohammed Abdiker, director of operations and emergencies at the UN migration agency, tweeted on Friday.
Abdiker further said that the people on the boat were dumped into the sea and “forced to swim to shore” as they approached Yemen's Shabwa province from Somalia.
No bodies have been recovered.
IOM spokesman Joel Millman said nearly 600 Ethiopian refugees, men and women, were aboard the ships. The figure is an unusually large number of refugees to arrive off the Yemeni province at one time.
According to International Organization for Migration figures, some 87,000 people risked their lives trying to reach Yemen from the Horn of Africa by boat in 2017.
At least 30 African refugees drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of war-torn Yemen last month with reports that their smugglers opened fire on those on board.
Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a bloody military campaign early in 2015 and have, ever since, been ceaselessly pounding the country in an attempt to reinstall Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Yemen’s former president and a staunch ally of Riyadh, and to crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement. The Saudi-led coalition has also maintained an embargo on the country where, so far, at least 13,600 civilians have been reportedly killed.
Yemen’s lawless southern regions, which are mostly controlled by militants loyal to Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s resigned president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, have become a fertile ground for smugglers who vow to transfer refugees from the region to wealthier Arab states in the Persian Gulf.
However, most of those smugglers leave refugees at sea as they fear being arrested by militants or Saudi Arabia’s military forces.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Exploited and Extorted, 30 Ethiopians and Somalis Drown While Trying to Return Home From Yemen -

At least 30 African migrants and refugees drowned off Yemen this week after their overcrowded vessel capsized during a clash with smugglers trying to extort them for more money, the United Nations said Friday.
The mass drowning, in the Gulf of Aden, which separates war-ravaged Yemen from the destitute Horn of Africa, punctuated the lethal hazards facing migrants and refugees in an especially insecure part of the world.
The victims, Somalis and Ethiopians who had originally sought temporary refuge in Yemen, were en route back toward their home countries — a telling barometer of Yemen’s descent into deprivation during its long civil war.
“These migrants, as far as we can tell, are folks who have been in limbo inside Yemen for some time,” said Joel A. Millman, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency. “Because of the incredibly difficult conditions of Yemen, people get fed up.”
In a statement, the agency said the mass drowning happened on Tuesday, after a boat packed with at least 152 people — 101 Ethiopians and 51 Somalis — departed Yemen’s Al Buraiqa coast for Djibouti, a tiny African nation across the Gulf of Aden.
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“The vessel is believed to have been operated by unscrupulous smugglers who were attempting to take refugees and migrants to Djibouti, while also trying to extort more money from these refugees and migrants,” the statement said. “The boat capsized amid reports of gunfire being used against the passengers.”
African migrants waited to board a boat in the southern port city of Aden, Yemen, before being deported to Somalia in 2016. CreditSaleh Al-Obeidi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The statement said the agency and its partners were working to learn more about the episode and were providing emergency assistance to survivors.
Ravaged by successive droughts, hunger and disease, the Horn of Africa is a major source of migration by people desperate for a better life.
Despite the war in Yemen, more than 87,000 migrants and refugees risked their lives last year seeking to reach the country by boat from the Horn of Africa, the agency said. At least 111 deaths were reported in 2017, and 109 in 2016.
The victims last year included at least 50 passengers from Somalia and Ethiopia bound for Yemen, who were thrown into the sea by traffickers as their boat neared the coast.
Many migrants see Yemen as a transit point for travel to Saudi Arabia and other affluent Persian Gulf countries where they can find work.
But Yemen also has become a departure point in the reverse route for migrants deported from Saudi Arabia. About 100,000 migrants from Ethiopia left Saudi Arabia last year, either voluntarily or through deportation, including some who returned via Yemen.
The nearly three-year-old war in Yemen, pitting Houthi insurgents against a Saudi-backed military coalition, also has contributed to a reverse migration back to Africa. Millions of Yemenis are facing acute hunger and disease, including a cholera epidemic that has sickened roughly 1 million people.
Jeffrey Labovitz, the agency’s regional director in Nairobi, said many migrants in Yemen are enduring “dire and vulnerable situations in a country at war, which is also suffering from large-scale food shortages.”

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ethiopia hosts nearly 400,000 South Sudanese refugees: UN - Sudan Tribune


Wrist-banding of newly-arrived south Sudanese refugees at the Pagak entry point, Gambella. On 4 November 2016 (UNHCR Ethiopia-Photo)

August 19, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) – The number of South Sudanese refugees living in Ethiopia as of 31 July 2017 was 382,322, a United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) official disclosed on Friday.

“The total number of arrivals since January 1 is 36,939, bringing the total number since the onset of the emergency in September 2016 to over 90,000,” Diana Diaz, UNHCR’s Associate External Relations and Reporting Officer told Anadolu.

She further added that an average of 175 persons arrive in Ethiopia daily.

65% of the total registered new arrivals since September 2016 are children, including 19,848 unaccompanied and separated children, said Diaz.

South Sudan has experienced a civil war since a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, escalated in December 2013. Tens of thousands of people have reportedly been killed and over 2 million displaced in less than five years.

A peace deal brokered by the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in August 2015, collapsed when fresh violence broke out in the South Sudanese capital, forcing Machar to flee into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He currently lives in South Africa.


Meanwhile, UNHCR said Thursday that the numbers of South Sudanese refugees currently living in Uganda exceeded one million, amid calls for urgent additional support.

Majority of the refugees, the agency said, are women and children.

“Over the past 12 months, averages of 1,800 South Sudanese have been arriving in Uganda every day,” UNHCR said in a statement.

“In addition to the million there, a million or even more South Sudanese refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic,” it added.

According to the UN agency, however, over 85% of the refugees who have arrived in Uganda are women and children below 18 years.

“Recent arrivals continue to speak of barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls, and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription,” said UNHCR.

As of refugees arrive, it said, aid delivery is increasingly falling short.

The UN agency underscored that although $674 million is needed for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda this year, so far only a fifth of this amount, or 21%, has so far been received. But although a total of $883.5 million is needed for the South Sudan situation, only $250 million has reportedly been received.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Italy launches investigation on Eritrean priest who helps thousands of migrants cross the Mediterranean

(YouTube/Crans Montana Forum)Fr. Mussie Zerai appears in a screen capture of a video from Crans Montana Forum.

An Eritrean priest who was once nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for helping migrants cross the Mediterranean is now being investigated in Italy for aiding illegal immigration.
Fr. Mussie Zerai, who has been hailed for saving thousands of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean, is currently under investigation in Italy for allegedly aiding illegal immigration by illegally sending information about boats and landings to NGO rescue ships.
"I received a letter from the Trapani public prosecutor's office on Monday informing me of the investigation," Zerai told Agence France-Presse (AFP), insisting that he was innocent.
The priest admitted in a statement that he had passed on details of desperate migrant ships to NGOs and rescue authorities, but he maintained that his "interventions are aimed at saving human lives."
"I can assert myself that I have nothing to hide and that I have always acted in the light and in full legality," Zerai said in a statement released on Tuesday.
"Apart from the Trapani initiative, which I have already informed my lawyer so that I can see and possibly contradict it, I have not been called to any other venue to justify or in any way respond to my work in favour of refugees and migrants," he added.
According to AFP, Zerai would transmit coordinates of migrant boats to the Italian coast guard, but sometimes, he also sends out the information to privately-run rescue ships known to be in the vicinity.
His name somehow ended up in an investigation launched by Trapani prosecutors into illegal immigration which focuses mostly on the roles played in migrant rescues by privately-funded NGOs.
Zerai became known as a one-man emergency hotline for refugees after he gave his number to a journalist in 2003 to help him translate stories of Eritreans in a detention center in Libya.
The number soon spread, and it became a crisis support line for migrants who try to contact the priest from inside trucks in the Sahara desert.
The priest became a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015 amid the worsening migration crisis. That same year, he was able to meet with Pope Francis, who was also nominated for the Nobel for his work on social justice and the environment.
During their meeting at a conference on human trafficking, they discussed the harrowing survivor stories that they had both heard on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. "He told me - have courage father, keep going,'" Zerai recalled.
According to UNHCR, about 5,000 Eritreans have entered Europe illegally by crossing the Mediterranean in 2017 alone, with the total of "sea arrivals" landing in Italy and Greece this year, reaching 117,000.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Up to 50 Immigrants from Somalia and Ethiopia deliberately Drowned by Smugglers off Yemen - UN

"Up to 50 Immigrants from Somalia and Ethiopia deliberately Drowned by Smugglers off Yemen - UN 0 Wednesday, August 09, 2017 - 23:49:24 in Latest News by Super Admin Visits: 132(Rating 0.0/5 Stars) Total Votes: 0 0 0 Share A boat full of migrants. ADEN – Early Wednesday morning, a human smuggler, in charge of the boat, forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the pitching sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea. The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen. Shortly after the tragedy, staff from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, during a routine patrol. The dead had been buried rapidly by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions. IOM is working closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure appropriate care for the deceased migrants’ remains. IOM’s medical staff also provided urgent care to the 27 surviving migrants, both females and males, who had remained on the beach. IOM provided initial health checks and assistance, including food, water and other emergency relief. Some of the survivors had already left the beach before being assisted. 22 migrants are reportedly still missing and unaccounted for. The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16. "The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea, when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast," explained Laurent de Boeck, the IOM Yemen Chief of Mission. "They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous. Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future," continued de Boeck. Since January 2017 to date, IOM estimates that around 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen, most with the aim of trying to find better opportunities in the Gulf countries. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under the age of 18 from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female. This journey is especially hazardous during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean. Smugglers are active in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, offering fake promises to vulnerable migrants. IOM and its partners operate across the region to support these migrants and provide life-saving assistance to those who find themselves abused or stranded along the route.  "

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ethiopia hosts more than 840,000 refugees: UNHCR - Xinhua |

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-13 03:46:03|Editor: Mu Xuequan
ADDIS ABABA, July 12 (Xinhua) -- A total of 6,186 refugees were registered in the month of June in Ethiopia, pushing the number of refugees registered in the East African nation to 843,374.
The figure was given on Wednesday by the United Nations High commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which said the June refugee arrivals have pushed the number of refugees registered in Ethiopia in the first six months of 2017 to a total of 60,293.
UNHCR gave the figures as it works to highlight the funding gap it is facing to meet the needs of the refugees currently estimated at 307.5 million U.S. dollars. So far 23 percent of the needed 307.5 million U.S. dollars has been donated to UNHCR.
Most refugees in Ethiopia come from the strife- torn nations of Somalia and South Sudan and Ethiopia's northern neighbor Eritrea.
Smaller groups of refugees fleeing war in Sudan and from across the Red Sea from Yemenare also part of the group the UNHCR has registered as refugees in Ethiopia.
With Ethiopia currently being among the top five refugee hosting nations in the world, it's also one of five African countries participating in a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).
CRRF is a vehicle for the implementation of pledges made at UN leaders' summit in September 2016 in New York, where refugees in Ethiopia will be given funds for assisting with education and employment opportunities in Ethiopia.
Western Countries in particular hope that schemes like CRRF will persuade refugees living in Ethiopia and other African nations not to undertake perilous trips to reach their countries and instead stay at their current host countries.