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The other traffic in the Gulf of Aden: almost 100,000 migrants crossed into Yemen from Africa in 2023

MADRID, 20 Ene.

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The other traffic in the Gulf of Aden: almost 100,000 migrants crossed into Yemen from Africa in 2023


The Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, the gateway to the Red Sea, are part of a key global trade route, now put at risk by attacks by Houthi rebels from Yemen. However, there is another, quieter flow that has led nearly 100,000 migrants to risk their lives crossing from the Horn of Africa to Yemeni territory.

Specifically, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded some 96,670 arrivals in 2023, a figure that in any case is approximate given the difficulty of following the evolution of a flow that leads these people to cross different countries before reach Yemen, immersed in a conflict for years.

The data reflects a rebound in this migratory route - in 2022 there were just over 73,000 arrivals in Yemen - and is added to the number of those who lose their lives along the way, equally approximate. The IOM is aware of 159 fatalities in 2023 - more than 60 of them in a single shipwreck in November - but assumes that the real number is higher.

Djibouti and Somalia serve as a starting point for East African migrants who want to reach Yemen, in many cases with a view to seeking a better life in other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia. The war in Yemen, however, complicates any move.

The IOM recognizes in its latest reports that the situation has now become more tense, to the extent that the conflict in the Gaza Strip and the actions taken by the Houthis as a show of support for the Palestinians have left the peace process paralyzed. internal and has even led to attacks against ships in the area.

However, sources from the regional office of this agency consulted by Europa Press believe that it is still premature to assess how these tensions may affect migratory flows. The Houthis launched their first attack in the Red Sea on November 18 and, in the month of December, nearly 1,700 migrants arrived in Yemen, mostly Ethiopians, in line with statistics from previous months.

These sources have explained that the agency "constantly" monitors the situation to "identify changes in migratory patterns" in the region, although the key could come in the coming months, given that flows usually spike before and during Ramadan. since it is assumed that the authorities can be less vigilant. This year, the Muslim holy month will begin on March 10.

Insecurity, the lack of essential goods such as food, shelter or health care and labor exploitation are just some of the challenges faced by those who arrive in Yemen, who have previously had to deal in most cases with networks smuggling and trafficking of human beings.

The UN, which estimates that some 209,000 migrants need humanitarian aid in this country, resumed in December the voluntary return programs to Ethiopia, paralyzed in September, through the IOM. A charter flight transported 118 migrants back to Ethiopian soil, although 2023 closed with more than 6,000 transfers.

Among the beneficiaries is Hayat, a 29-year-old girl who arrived in Yemen three years ago and who three months earlier had gone to Sanaa, the capital, "in search of help" with her children. "Since then, I was hoping to be reunited with my family," she told IOM in December, before returning to Ethiopia.