Boat sinks on way to Yemen [Archives:2004/795/Front Page]

December 2 2004

By Peter Willems
Yemen Times Staff

Sixteen people are reported dead after a boat sank while traveling from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, according to Somali media sources.
Others are missing and feared to have drowned.
The boat is said to have carried over 115 passengers and left Puntland, a breakaway region of Somalia, last Thursday. It is believed that the boat carried passengers beyond its capacity.
Most of the people on the boat came from Ethiopia and Somalia. Yemen is home to thousands of refugees from the two countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 47,000 Somali refugees live in Yemen.
Last April, over 100 Ethiopian refugees died when their boat collided with a vessel carrying Somali refugees. Another boat carrying around 95 people is believed to have faced a crisis since it has not arrived in Yemen after leaving Somalia last Wednesday.
Although Ethiopia is a stable country, some Ethiopians try to move to other countries that have better economic conditions. In The World Bank's recent report, Ethiopia's gross domestic product has become worse in recent years. After growing 1.9% in 2002, the economy has contracted by 3.9% last year. Forty-four percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
It is estimated that 430,000 Somalis live outside of Somalia after fleeing the country as fighting continued between clans after Said Barre's regime was ousted in 1991. In October, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was sworn in as Somalia's president in Nairobi, Kenya, after Inter-Governmental Authority on Development headed a two-year peace process and was elected by the country's interim parliament. The new president is expected to put together a cabinet within a couple of weeks, and a new government will move to Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, in the near future.
“We believe that President Yusuf will bring us peace and a better life in Somalia,” said a Somali refugee living in Yemen. “When it happens, there will be less Somali refugees.”
The United Nations Security Council has shown support to Yusuf establishing a new government and bringing stability to the country.
“The Council welcomes the progress made in the Somalia national reconciliation process – in particular the establishment of the Transitional Federal Parliament, the election of the speaker of the parliament, the president and the appointment of the prime minister, which provides a sound and solid framework to achieve a comprehensive and lasting solution to the situation,” said the Council's statement at the end of a two-day meeting in Nairobi in November.
Yusuf has asked the African Union to provide a 15,000-20,000 peacekeeping force to help disarm different militias. In the process the new government would have a Somali National Security Force trained to replace the peacekeeping soldiers.
Bringing stability to Somalia will not be easy, however. Mogadishu, which has been divided between factions during the ongoing civil war, is home to an estimated 60,000 armed men belonging to clans that hold different parts of the capital. Clashes have erupted recently between militias as clan leaders are fighting for a position before the new government arrives in the capital. In mid-November, gunmen raided Yusuf's home in Nairobi, hours after he moved in. The new leader was unharmed and the purpose of the raid is still unknown.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh attended the ceremony of the new Somali president taking the oath of office in Nairobi and called on the international community to help bring stability to the war-torn country. In early November, the Yemeni government asked the Arab League to create an Arab fund that would assist the rebuilding of Somalia.