Category Archives: Somalia

UNHCR: Record Number of Migrants and Refugees Crossed Gulf of Aden in 2012

The UNHCR reported on 15 January 2013 that “[a] record 107,500 African refugees and migrants made the dangerous journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in 2012. This is the largest influx into Yemen since 2006 when UNHCR began compiling these statistics. The previous record high was in 2011 when more than 103,000 people arrived in Yemen by sea.”  UNHCR estimates that 80% of the persons making the crossing are Ethiopian and the remainder Somali.   UNHCR estimates that approximately 100 persons drowned in 2012.  “Boats crossing to Yemen are often packed beyond capacity and smugglers, in order to avoid the Yemeni coast guard, force passengers into the water, often far from the shores and with tragic consequences.”

Click here for full UNHCR press release.

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Filed under Data / Stats, Ethiopia, Gulf of Aden, News, Somalia, UNHCR, Yemen

UNHCR Reports 55 people missing or drowned off northern Somali coast

UNHCR Press Release:

“Fifty-five people are drowned or missing after an overcrowded boat capsized off the Somali coast on Tuesday night (18 December). UNHCR is greatly saddened by this latest tragic incident – the biggest loss of life in the Gulf of Aden since February 2011 when 57 Somali refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa drowned while attempting to reach Yemen.

According to five of the survivors – all young Somali men – the boat was overcrowded and ran into trouble almost immediately after leaving the port of Bosasso in northern Somalia on Tuesday. It capsized just 15 minutes into its journey, spilling all 60 passengers into sea. Those on board were Ethiopians and Somalis.

To date, 23 bodies have been recovered, including those of 14 women, eight men, and a boy said to be less than four years of age. Five of the dead are confirmed to have been Ethiopians. The thirty-two remaining passengers are presumed to have drowned.

‘The tragic loss of so many lives is a new and stark reminder of the risks Somali refugees are taking as they flee their country’ said UNHCR Representative for Somalia, Bruno Geddo. ‘Without doubt, the Gulf of Aden is now the deadliest route for people fleeing conflict, violence and human rights abuses in the Horn of Africa.’

100,000 people have crossed the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden this year, despite warnings from UNHCR and other aid agencies about the risks such trips involve. In addition to using unseaworthy and overcrowded boats, those fleeing the Horn of Africa region often fall prey to unscrupulous smugglers, in whose hands they can face exploitation, extortion and even death.

With the latest deaths, 95 people have drowned or gone missing in the waters between Somalia and Yemen this year. UNHCR and other agencies, through the local Migration Response Centre (MRC) in Bosasso are currently providing support and services to the survivors and assisting the local authorities with the ongoing recovery operations.

END

Further info: Andy Needham, UNHCR Somalia PI Officer +254 733 120 931 needham@unhcr.org

Andy Needham Public Information Officer UNHCR Somalia First Floor, Lion Place, Waiyaki Way 43801-00100 Nairobi, Kenya

Somalia Displacement Portal: https://data.unhcr.org/horn-of-africa/somalia.php

m: +254 733 120 931 d: +254 20 420 2103 o: +254 20 420 2000

needham@unhcr.org www.unhcr.org www.takeaction.unhcr.org “

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Filed under Gulf of Aden, News, Somalia, UNHCR, Yemen

Slight Decrease in Number of Migrants Arriving by Boat in Spain in First Half of 2012

Frontex reports a 3% decrease in the number of irregular migrants arriving by boat in Spain over the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011: 2,637 in 2011 versus 2,559 in 2012.  Most migrant boats attempt to reach the Spanish mainland along the coasts of Andalusia and elsewhere in eastern Spain.  Frontex reports an increase of 6.5% in the number of migrants reaching the Spanish mainland, but this increase is offset by a reduction in the number of migrant arrivals in the Canary Islands.

EFE quoted Gil Arias, Frontex deputy director, as stating that “[t]he decline [in Spain] is in line with the trend of the EU…” where there has been an overall reduction of more than 50% in the number of irregular migrants crossing land and sea borders of Member States during the same six month period: 74,200 in 2011 versus 36,741 in 2012.   Arias noted that the number of arrivals in Spain is “insignificant” relative to the overall EU, accounting for about 7% of the EU total with Italy accounting for 12% and Greece 67%.

Note that there are other media reports which provide slightly different figures from those reported by Frontex.  Europapress reported that an estimated 3,000 migrants have been rescued so far this year (apparently though late July) along the Andalusian coast by rescue services.

Click here, here, here, and here for articles. (ES)

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Filed under Algeria, Data / Stats, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Frontex, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, News, Somalia, Spain

11 Dead, 34 Missing in Gulf of Aden – Smugglers Forced Passengers Into Sea

The UNHCR reported on 10 February that at least 11 persons drowned and 34 are missing after their boat capsized in the Gulf of Aden. The boat left Somalia for Yemen on 4 February, became disabled and drifted, and then capsized on 8 February in bad weather.  UNHCR reported that “[s]hocking details came to light [on 9 February] as survivors recounted to local authorities and our partners how smugglers forced 22 passengers overboard soon after the engine failed. … So far, 11 bodies have been recovered on beaches around the village of Ceelaayo some 30 kilometers west of Bossaso. Locals also found 13 survivors, including two women and a teenage boy and girl….”

This latest disaster occurs after an almost 100% increase in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants crossing the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea from Africa to Yemen in 2011 compared to 2010.  103,000 migrants are estimated to have made the sea crossing in 2011 compared to an estimated 53,000 in 2010.  130 persons are known to have drowned in 2011.

Click here for UNHCR report.

Click here for my last post on the 2011 statistics.

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UNHCR: Record Number of Refugees and Migrants Cross to Yemen in 2011

The UNHCR reports that there has been an almost 100% increase in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants who crossed the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea from Africa to Yemen in 2011 compared to 2010.  103,000 migrants are estimated to have made the sea crossing in 2011 compared to an estimated 53,000 in 2010.  130 persons are known to have drowned.  Ethiopians now make up the largest nationality making the voyage, accounting for about 75% of the total.  Prior to 2009 Somalis were the largest group.

Click here (EN), here (EN) and here (FR) for UNHCR statements.

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Filed under Data / Stats, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gulf of Aden, News, Somalia, UNHCR, Yemen

Migrant Boat Reaches Lampedusa

A rubber dinghy carrying 69 sub-Saharan migrants landed on Saturday on Lampedusa without having been intercepted.  The migrants are believed to be Somali.  At least one media report states that the migrants are believed to have departed from Tunisia.  Several of the boat’s passengers were hospitalized.  The main migrant detention centre on Lampedusa remains closed.

Click here and here for articles. (IT)

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Filed under Italy, Mediterranean, News, Somalia, Tunisia

Migrant Boat Rescued by Armed Forces of Malta

An Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat rescued 44 Somalis from a sinking 7 metre dingy early Tuesday morning.  The rescue took place about 70 nautical miles south of Malta.  The migrants have been taken to Malta.  The boat is believed to have departed from Libya on Saturday.  Survivors reported that two persons died during the voyage.

Click here and here (with video) for articles.

In an incident last week, the Moroccan Royal Navy rescued 53 migrants from a boat off Dar Kabdani.  At least four persons are known to have died in that incident.

Click here (EN) and here (IT) for articles.

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UNHCR: 16 Drowning Deaths in Gulf of Aden

UNHCR reports on the most recent known deaths in the Gulf of Aden over the past week.  The victims were mostly Somalis attempting to reach Yemen.  In one incident involving a sinking of a boat at least 15 are known to have died.  “The survivors say that during the voyage they saw a cargo vessel and foreign naval ship. They say that the naval ship approached their boat but ignored their cries for help. This is disturbing. UNHCR appeals to all shipmasters in the Gulf of Aden to uphold the longstanding tradition of rescue at sea and helping vessels in distress.”

“UNHCR is alarmed by a growing number of deaths in the Gulf of Aden this year. Eighty-nine people are known to have drowned in January and February alone – compared to 15 only during the whole of 2010. We also note with the great concern the resurgence of violence and inhumane treatment by smugglers of the refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants that they are transporting. The deadly record for the first three months is a stark manifestation of this trend.  More than 6,500 Somalis and 18,800 Ethiopians have arrived in Yemen by boat so far this year.”

Click here for UNHCR statement.

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Nationalities of Migrants Who Arrived in Malta from Libya Last Week

From the Times of Malta (sources: Home Affairs Ministry and parliamentary replies) and as noted on EASO Monitor:

Nationalities of migrants who arrived last week

  • Somalia – 411
  • Eritrea – 250
  • Ethiopia – 87
  • Ivory Coast – 26
  • Mali – 16
  • Pakistan – 14
  • Sudan – 6
  • Nigeria – 6
  • Yemen – 2
  • Mauritania – 1
  • Total: 819

Migrants in Malta before Libya crisis

  • Held in detention: 79
  • Living in open centres: 2,224
  • Living in the community: 1,400
  • Total: 3,703

Migrant arrivals in previous years

  • 2007: 1,702
  • 2008: 2,775
  • 2009: 1,397
  • 2010: 27

Click here for article.

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Filed under Data / Stats, Eritrea, Ethiopia, European Union, Frontex, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Somalia

Boat With 350 African Migrants from Libya Receives Assistance from Canadian Navy Ship

A boat carrying approximately 350 African migrants or asylum seekers from Libya has been intercepted and is being diverted to the Italian island of Linosa between Malta and Lampedusa.  There have been reports over the past several days that the migrant boat was at sea.  A Canadian navy ship, probably the frigate HMCS Charlottetown, first intercepted and boarded the migrant boat to determine whether the passengers required immediate rescue or not and to provide a pump.  The migrant boat was allowed to proceed.  An Italian navy helicopter later rescued a woman who gave birth on the boat.  The woman, the newborn baby, the father, and a second pregnant woman were removed from the migrant boat and taken to hospitals on Lampedusa and Sicily.  The Italian navy said that the migrant boat will be taken to Linosa rather than Lampedusa.  UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini is quoted by AFP as saying that “[t]his is the first boat coming from Libya with people fleeing the military escalation, the vendettas and the retaliation attacks and that “the people on board the boat required ‘international protection’”.  AFP also reported that “Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest in Italy who has been in direct contact with the vessel via a satellite phone, said conditions on the boat were extremely difficult with around 10 children and 20 women on board.  He said the people were mostly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalians.”  Zerai also “said four or five other boats carrying African migrants had … left Libyan shores carrying around 1,000 people.”

Click here (EN) and here (IT) for articles.

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Filed under Eritrea, Ethiopia, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Somalia, UNHCR

2500 Somalis Stranded in Tripoli – Too Fearful to Flee

From IRIN:  “Some 2,500 Somali migrants in the Libyan capital Tripoli, under the control of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, are holed up in the violence-affected city and unsure what to do, say Somali migrants there. ‘We have not left our house in the last 12 days. If we go out we are liable to be attacked,’ one of the Somalis, Mohamed Aweys, told IRIN by phone from Tripoli. ‘A friend who went out on 1 March to get some supplies has not returned. We have not seen or heard of him since; his mobile is switched off.’ … Another 500 in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, Aweys said, had been targeted as suspected pro-Gaddafi mercenaries. ‘We spoke to some of them on the phone in Benghazi and they are hiding in their homes.’ … Asked if they would try and reach the Egyptian or Tunisian border, like other foreign nationals, Ahmed said: ‘We are afraid we will get killed before we reach any border.’…”

Click here for article.

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Yemen to End Prima Facie Refugee Status for Somalis

Yemen announced a plan to end its policy of granting prima facie refugee status to Somali nationals.  If the change is approved by the Council of Ministers, arriving Somalis would be required to make individual requests for refugee status.  The Yemen Observer reported that “[a]ccording to Essam al-Mahbashi, member of the National Committee for Refugee Affairs (NACRA), not all Somalis are fleeing conflict as many of them come from safe regions such as the port of Bosasso in the Puntland region of northern Somalia in search of better economic opportunities. Al-Mahbashi said that the emergence of extremist groups in Somalia like al-Shabab al-Mujahideen is one of the reasons why Yemen wants to cancel the prima facie refugee status policy.”  “Patrick Duplat of NGO Refugees International (RI) told IRIN that RI encouraged countries, including Yemen, to offer Somalis the broadest protection mechanisms possible given the current situation in their homeland. However, he said Yemen’s new policy would be in line with newly issued UNHCR guidelines on Somalis that allow for such screening but call for those Somalis not granted refugee status to be afforded ‘complementary forms of international protection.’”

Click here for article.

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INTERSOS Update on Mixed Migration in the Gulf of Aden

INTERSOS has released a short report on the movement of migrants from the Horn of African to Yemen during the first half of 2010.  The report notes a more than 50% reduction in the number of Somalis arriving in Yemen compared with the same period in 2009.  The number of non-Somalis (mostly Ethiopians) arriving in Yemen has remained the same compared to the same period last year.  The report observes that increased efforts by Puntland authorities to halt traffickers and the increased turmoil within Somalia making movement within the country difficult may partially explain the reduced numbers.  The report notes that a reduction in the outward migration flow of Somalis into Kenya has also occurred, though there has been in increase in the numbers of Somalis entering Ethiopia.

Click here for the Report.

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UNHCR Reports 50% Reduction in African Migrant Flow to Yemen

UNHCR reports a significant decline in the numbers of migrants travelling by sea from the Horn of Africa to Yemen.  UNHCR said that “violence within Somalia could be preventing many would-be migrants from reaching their port of departure.  An estimated 9,400 people from across the Horn of Africa have reached the shores of Yemen since the beginning of this year, compared to nearly 17,000 between January and March 2009….”

Click here for UNHCR statement.

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US Navy Ship Rescues Stranded Somalis

US Navy Photo

A US Naval vessel participating in counterpiracy operations off the Somali coast rescued 30 Somali men, women, and children approximately 100 miles of the Somali coast on 25 March.  The Somalis had been drifting for four days after their boat’s motors stopped working.  The Somalis were returned to Somalia.

Click here for article.

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