Refugee’s From “Horn of Africa” Travelling to Yemen Increase as UN Calls for Greater Protection

Conditions in the Ali Hussein camp, one of sev...

Conditions in the Ali Hussein camp, one of several large camps hosting refugees from the 2011 Horn of Africa famine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than 62,000 people arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa this year, the United Nations refugee agency said today, calling for increased cooperation among countries to ensure protection for asylum seekers who risk their lives on this deadly route.

“The crossing from the Horn of Africa to Yemen is one of several deadly sea routes worldwide that UNHCR watches closely,” spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, <“http://www.unhcr.org/527cc7b66.html“>told reporters in Geneva.

“Hundreds of people, including Syrian refugees, have died in recent months crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. In Southeast Asia, just last weekend, dozens of people were reported missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal.”

Yemen has seen six successive years of high arrivals by sea. Since 2006, when UNHCR started collecting data, more than half a million asylum seekers, refugees and migrants have travelled by sea to Yemen. Most are Ethiopians, citing the difficult economic situation at home and often hoping to travel through Yemen to the Gulf States and beyond.

Yemen IDPs 7

Yemen IDPs 7 (Photo credit: IRIN Photos)

Somalis arriving in Yemen are automatically recognized as refugees by the authorities, while UNHCR has helped determine the refugee status of other asylum seekers, including from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other countries.

UNHCR is encouraging cooperation among countries affected by mixed migration, and is supporting the Yemeni Government to organize a conference next week on asylum and migration together with the International Organization for Migration.

The three-day conference will took place in Sana’a, with participants from Governments from the Horn of Africa, Gulf States, donor countries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and institutions such as the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat.

“The aim of the Yemen conference was to establish a regional plan to help manage mixed migration between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula,” Mr. Edwards said.

The objective being to include, saving lives, ensuring better protection systems for asylum seekers and refugees, strengthening law enforcement against smuggling and trafficking networks, increasing funding for assisted-voluntary-returns programmes, and raising awareness of the dangers of irregular migration.

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True Cost of Piracy and Organised Crime off the Horn of Africa

piracy is a crime

Pirates off the coast of Somalia and the Horn of Africa have made between $339 million and $413 million in ransom profits, fuelling a wide range of criminal activities on a global scale, according to a United Nations backed report released today.

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTFINANCIALSECTOR/0,,contentMDK:23491862~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:282885,00.html” Pirate Trails, produced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and INTERPOL, uses data and evidence from interviews with former pirates, Government officials, bankers and others involved in countering piracy, to investigate the glow of ransom money paid out to Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean.

“The vast amounts of money collected by pirates, and the fact that they have faced almost no constraint in moving and using their assets has allowed them not only to thrive, but also to develop their capacities on land,” said the Chief of the Implementation Support Section in the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch at UNODC, Tofik Murshudlu.

“These criminal groups and their assets will continue to pose a threat to the stability and security of the Horn of Africa unless long-term structural solutions are implemented to impede their current freedom of movement.”

Piracy costs the global economy about $18 billion a year in increased trade costs. Because the outbreak of piracy has reduced maritime activity around the Horn of Africa, East African countries have suffered a significant decline in tourist arrivals and fishing yields since 2006.

“Unchallenged piracy is not only a menace to stability and security, but it also has the power to corrupt the regional and international economy,” said Stuart Yikona, a World Bank Senior Financial Sector Specialist and the report’s co-author.

English: Map showing the extent of Somali pira...

English: Map showing the extent of Somali pirate attacks on shipping vessels between 2005 and 2010. Français : Carte montrant l’étendue des attaques de pirates somaliens sur des navires de transport entre 2005 et 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The report found that ransom money was invested in criminal activities, such as arms trafficking, funding militias, migrant smuggling and human trafficking, and was used to further finance piracy activities. Piracy profits are also laundered through the trade of ‘khat,’ a herbal stimulant, where it is not monitored and so the most vulnerable to illicit international flows of money.

The report, which focused on Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Seychelles, and Somalia, also analysed the investments made by a sample of 59 pirate ‘financiers’ to show the  range of sectors – including both legitimate businesses and criminal ventures – that were funded by the ransom money. It found that between 30 per cent and 75 per cent of the ransom money ends up with these financiers, while the pirate ‘foot soldiers’ aboard the ships receive just a  fraction  of  the proceeds, amounting to less than 0.1 per cent of the total.

Pirate Trails calls for coordinated international action to address the issue, and sets out how the flow of illicit money from the Indian Ocean can be disrupted.

“The international community has mobilized a naval force to deal with the pirates. A similarly managed multinational effort is needed to disrupt and halt the flow of illicit money that circulates in the wake of their activities,” said Mr. Yikona.

Among the range of measures recommended by the report are strengthening  the  capacity  of  countries in the Horn of Africa to deal with illegal cross-border cash smuggling, risk-based oversight of Money Value Transfer Service Providers, and the development of mechanisms to monitor international financial flows into the khat trade.

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