Why Are African Men and Women Still Fleeing to Yemen?


Conflict has been raging in Yemen since 2015, yet people from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea remain undeterred to thread on the perilous routes only to encounter dangerous conditions when they get there. To paraphrase the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, they continue to flee their lands, as home won’t let them stay.

Just how dangerous this journey can be was made clear last month, when a boat carrying 150 Somali refugees was attacked by a helicopter and a military ship near the Yemeni port of Hodeidah. At least 42 were killed.

Since 2013, nearly 290,000 refugees and migrants have landed on the Yemeni coast. Nearly 80 percent of these were Ethiopians, and most of the rest were Somalis. Most journey to Yemen in the hope of using it as a transit point, while others look to stay in Yemen, often unaware of the dangers.

Between January 2006 and April 2016, more than 700,000 persons reportedly crossed from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, with Somalis mostly staying in Yemen as refugees and Ethiopians travelling onwards to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

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