Yemen arrests 21 Ethiopian

April 24, 2010

SANA’A, April 23 (Saba)- Security authorities have detained 21 infiltrators of Ethiopia, including 8 women, for their entry into the country illegally.

In a press release, Interior Ministry said on Friday that the security services arrested the Ethiopians in Taiz province, south Yemen. They are under investigated.

Meanwhile, security sources said that 71 would-be refugees of Somalia, including 33 women, had reached the shore of Taiz.

“The Somalis have been assembled from the coast and sent to a camp of Somali refugees in Kharaz area, south Yemen”, the sources said.

Tens of thousands of African refugees flee to Yemen each year across the Gulf of Aden. The vast majority of African refugees fleeing to Yemen come from Somalia and Ethiopia, according to Human Rights Watch.

As the overcrowded boats approach shore, smugglers sometimes force passengers in the water, and some drown.

HRW had said that Yemen welcomes Somalis fleeing the decades of conflict in their country. But Ethiopians and others risk being arrested and illegally forced to return home.

In early 2010, Yemen launched a security campaign on its wide-spreading coasts to prevent al-Qaeda suspects coming from the Horn of Africa from infiltrating into the country.

The campaign followed a threat by the Somali Islamic Shabab group to supply the al-Qaeda group in Yemen with militants.

According to the UN statistics, more than 74,000 African people moved illegally to Yemen in 2009 with an increase of 50 per cent compared with 2008.

Ethiopians formed majority of those Africans who moved to Yemen in 2009.

The statistics noted that the number of Somalis who reached Yemeni coasts in 2009 was 32800.

People from the Horn of Africa countries continue to flee their ravaged countries heading to Yemen, with the authorities saying the number of those who have already arrived in the country until last year is more 700,000 people.

Disorders and economic pressures in the African Horn region led to the increase of the number of Africans who pay for smugglers and take a risky sea trip towards Yemen.

The African migrants sometimes become a victim of beating, rape, killing or throwing into the sharks-filled seawater.