(Illegal immigration across the coast of Yemen) Report of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue

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Sunday, April 4, 2021

Press Release


On Sunday, April 4, 2021, the “Counter-Terrorism Observatory “of the Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue issued a report entitled “Illegal immigration across the coast of Yemen.”

The report highlights that the issue of illegal migration is the most serious social issue that continues to haunt the international community, which is a very sensitive issue because it affects all segments of society where the phenomenon became not just limited to young people, especially males, but females and even children and illegal migration is a global phenomenon.

The issue of illegal immigration across Yemen’s coast is a difficult issue, with thousands of Africans migrants travelling very long distances towards Yemen and sailing on worn out boats, and sometimes thrown into the water, dead, or possibly reaching the other side where their dreams of a better life are shattered in Yemen’s mountains and deserts.

The report states that about 11,500 people traveled by sea every month of 2020 from the horn of Africa to Yemen, making this sea route the busiest migration route in the world, according to the International Organization for Migration.

When it comes to the coast of Yemen and illegal migration, the report explained that smugglers and human traffickers send boats from Obuk in Djibouti and Bossaso in Somalia, and this year (38%) of migrants arrived through Djibouti, while the majority (62%) came to Yemen’s southern coast from Somalia.

The report also stated that the majority of migrants use a shorter and safer route between Djibouti and Bab al-Mandab in Yemen, which takes several hours to cross by small sea boats, often arriving on large boats and sometimes using smuggling vessels for money, with the cost of migration and human smuggling exceeding $300 per person and sometimes up to $500 per migrant and the lucky people who arrive safely on the Yemeni coast.

With regard to the negative impact of illegal migration,the report stated that the increase in the number of illegal immigrants in any country is a phenomenon with implications for the various aspects of life in regional or international society, as well as development of any State.

With regard to the humanitarian violations of migrants in Yemen, the report explained that most migrants from the Horn of Africa to Yemen do not understand the reality of the security situation in this country, where they face serious concerns about their safety and protection from active battles there, or violations such as kidnapping, torture for ransom, exploitation and human trafficking by Houthi groups.

He also explained that thousands of migrants and refugees live in difficult living conditions because they queue there for food next to a garbage dump without toilets and that about 280 people were crammed into one boat to reach Yemen with a lack of oxygen in the boat and some committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea.

The Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militia is also carrying out serious violations against African migrants,  with   the Houthis burning dozens of African migrants in    March 2021 after targeting a detention centre in the Yemeni capital Sanaa firing “projectiles” at the immigration detention center,  causing a fire at the centre where migrants were protesting their living conditions and hundreds of migrants were taken to hospitals for treatment, while others fled to other areas of the country as an enemy.

The report on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to combat illegal immigration said that since the end of 2009, factors have combined to block the growing trend of migration when Saudi Arabia deployed troops on the Yemeni border to help the Yemeni government quell a Houthi insurgency and the kingdom temporarily closed the border, hampering the smuggling network along the road to the starting point in Somalia and reducing smuggling activity on the heavily used road from the port of Bossaso to Yemen’s southern coast.

The kingdom also announced a $430 million donation to fund the 2021 UN humanitarian response plan to support Yemen, continuing as the kingdom stance towards the coup d’état of the Iranian Houthi militia against Yemeni legitimacy.

The report concluded with a number of recommendations, the most important of which were:

  • Provide more support and increase assistance to host countries for refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants in both the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
  • Countries of origin, transit and destination should take more stringent measures to combat human trafficking and trafficking while protecting those who are victims of human smugglers and traffickers.
  • Coastal states should ratify offshore rescue agreements and establish/or improve their search and rescue capabilities. 
  • The international community should provide the required support to the coast guard in the countries of the region as the International Maritime Organization should provide available technical assistance.
  • UNHCR and other specialized agencies should be allowed access to detention facilities to identify refugees and others in need ofprotection.
  • Mechanisms for voluntary return should be put in place in the best safety and dignity on the basis of bilateral or multilateral agreements.

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