Dozens of African refugees were being smuggled to Yemen in small boats drowned after their boats capsized in the Bab al-Mandab strait between Africa and the Southeastern Arabian Peninsula.
A Ministry of Interior spokesman claimed that one of the boats, meant for smuggling goods, was overturned in a coastal area near the Bab, drowning 46 Ethiopians on board.
The second boat, carrying about 35 people, including women and children from Ethiopia, capsized off the coast of Ras Ala’ara in the Lahj governorate.
None of the African passengers survived except for three Somalis, who were still alive when they were swept ashore.
The Yemeni Coastguard found the bodies of two Ethiopian citizens and are checking for survivors among the remaining bodies.
Somalis and inhabitants of surrounding countries are forced to flee their homelands to escape conflict and start a new life in stable, securer states.
Migration routes along the Red Sea and Indian ocean are usually journeyed in small boats, not intended for human transportation, thus causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of them Somalis, in the recent years through drowning.
Yemen’s coasts are witnessing a daily flow of African refugees, most of them Somalis, with numbers ranging from 80-100 per day, including women and children.
According to the Ministry of Interior, refugees assembling on the coasts are either deported to camps in Kharaz or Lahj, or infiltrate local Yemeni cities.
It also pointed out that the number of refugees arriving in Yemen in the last two months reached 3,014 Somali refugees, including 568 women and 276 children.
The Ministry of interior has instructed the deportation of 388 Africans, mostly Ethiopian detainees in Yemen’s coastal provinces, to their home countries after they entered the country illegally.
An unofficial report listed more than 1,750, 000 Somali refugees currently residing in Yemen.
A UNHCR Representative in Sana’a claimed in an earlier statement to Saba Yemen news agency that they had no statistics of the number of refugees entering the country illegally.
The only records they keep are of those registering in UNHCR shelters. These number at about 133,000 refugees: 126 Somalis and the rest from other countries.
The Yemeni government expressed concern over the continued flow of refugees from the Horn of Africa, especially those filling the ranks of the armed Jihadi Shabab Movement.
The government voiced its concerns pending proclamations of Sheikh Fuad Shnaghuli, spiritual leader of the Shabab Movement, that his soldiers are ready to cross the Gulf and join their brothers in Yemen. His announcements, made in December last year, designated Yemen as an arena of “global warfare against apostasy and infidels.”
His words roused government fears that refugee camps in Kharaz and Lahj, accommodating approximately 18, 000 Somali Refugees, were on their way to becoming training grounds of the Shabab in Yemen.