On 13 January 2012, smugglers operating along the Red Sea coast of Yemen killed three Ethiopian new arrivals on the way from Al Mukha to Al Dhabab area, and left the bodies on the outskirts of Al-Dhubai village in Taiz Governorate. The Ethiopians were shot while trying to escape from the smugglers who were attempting to extort money from them. UNHCR expresses deep regret and concern over the death of these individuals and is following up this case directly with the authorities. It is important that those who commit crimes against refugees and migrants be brought to justice.
The instability in Yemen is giving greater opportunity to operate for human traffickers and smugglers along Yemen’s Red Sea coast. Reports of abductions of migrants or refugees upon arrival to Yemen persist – mostly for ransom or extortion. While the main targets seem to be Ethiopian new arrivals some Somali nationals have been also abducted.
Insecurity often prevents patrolling humanitarian teams from reaching the new arrivals before the smugglers. Another worrying trend has been the prevalence of violent physical and sexual abuse of refugees and migrants at the hands of smugglers while at sea or in land. UNHCR has recorded more than 15 instances of sexual assaults and physical abuses perpetrated against refugees and migrants along the Red Sea coast in December 2011 alone. UNHCR along with its partners is providing medical assistance and counselling to survivors.