Attempting to flee the constant violence, poverty, and famine in the region, many Somalis and Ethiopians attempt to escape to Yemen (on the Arabian Peninsula) by hiring human smugglers to transport them across the Gulf of Aden (between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea). Due to increased coastal patrols in Yemen, many of these trips occur by cover of night, making these already dangerous trips even more deadly. I met several Somali refugees who began their journeys to Greece just this way – taking boats to Yemen, trekking through the Arabian desert (some on foot, others by bus) and through Jordan, Syria, and Turkey before arriving in Greece. Many of these refugees lost friends and family along the way.
Friday CNN reported that after at least one boat taking refugees from Somalia to Yemen capsized, three other boats forced their occupants overboard (in an attempt to quickly return to Somalia, before Yemeni authorities arrived). While around 170 refugees reached the shores of Yemen alive, at least 112 drowned at sea. As the article states, “The tragedy highlights the plight of thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians who try to escape to the Arabian peninsula each year, many hoping to eventually reach Europe. UNHCR says more than 27,000 fled last year and several hundred died making the perilous crossing.” Follow this link to access the entire article.

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