Yemen needs more foreign aid to protect Somali refugees, says Al-Qirbi [Archives:2008/1157/Local News]

May 22 2008

By: Hamed Thabet
SANA'A, MAY, 20 ) In the first four months of this year alone, more than 16,000 people crossed the Gulf of Aden to Yemen, hoping to find safety and a better life, said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is known as UNHCR.

Yemen, a regular landing point for boats from the Horn of Africa, is considered by many as a temporary destination on the way to richer Gulf States. However, there are over 117,000 registered refugees living permanently in Yemen, with the majority coming from Somalia.

Yemen has traditionally maintained an open-door policy towards refugees, particularly those from Somalia and is hosting a substantial Somali refugee community in accordance with the 1951 refugee protocol, said Abu Baker Al-Qirbi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

According to the UNHCR, nearly all Somalis enter the country from Yemen's coastal areas by paying smugglers to ferry them by boat. During their flight to supposed safety, many refugees are abused, raped or even killed by the human traffickers whom they pay to transport them to Yemen.

Each one of these Somali refugees says that they just want to have a good and safe life in Yemen and they look forward to finding work here. They also hope that one day peace will replace war in their homeland, added UNHCR. Many of the refugees drown in the sea because smugglers force them to leave the boat in deep places or turn over the boat it self. “Mass media is blaming the Yemeni government for the drowning deaths of the people that try to enter the county via smugglers across the Red Sea,” said Al-Qirbi. “”The mass media forgot the Yemeni government's role in saving and protecting the refugees.””

More than a million Somalis are facing hazardous situations while immigrating to Yemen illegally