Good Company

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Human smuggling continues

As seen in this piece on "smuggling people from Somalia to Yemen":
The deadly business of smuggling people across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia to Yemen has resumed for another year, with four overcrowded open fishing boats arriving in less than a week.
Survivors on the first boat said four people died when the crew forced them overboard while still far from shore – the first of what will almost certainly be hundreds of deaths during the September to April period when sailing is possible.
"Though the sea is still rough, the sailing season has started. Hundreds of people, looking for refuge or for better economic conditions, are believed to be lost at sea every year when they are exploited by smuggling rings," said Adel Jasmin, representative of the UN refugee agency in Yemen.
The four boats, which started arriving from last Saturday, were carrying 363 passengers, in addition to the four who drowned. If it follows the pattern of previous years, a boat carrying about 100 people is likely to arrive every day.
"Most of those interviewed by UNHCR said they were leaving Somalia because of the continuous state of insecurity, drought and economic hardship," said Jasmin. "They reported they had no water or food on board and their treatment by the crew was, as usual, inhuman.
"The survivors said the crew beat the passengers. They also forced them out of the boat last Saturday while still in deep water, causing the deaths of four. Only two bodies were recovered and they were buried, nameless, at the coast," said Jasmin.
The smugglers are operating from the commercial port of Bossasso in Puntland, a self-declared autonomous area of northeast Somalia, more than 300 kilometres from Yemen. Most passengers are Somalis, but the boats also include large numbers of Ethiopians. UNHCR has interviewed some from as far away as Sri Lanka.
Or here:
Over the past few years, the Canary Islands have been used to the arrival of "pateras", small boats holding up to 12 immigrants from Senegal or Guinea.

Now, bigger "cayucos" - brightly painted Senegalese fishing boats - are arriving daily, packed with up to 150 young men desperate for a better life, hoping for work or schooling in the West.

Some speak of escaping war and poverty by risking eight to 10 days on treacherous seas with little more than rice and biscuits to eat. The state of those arriving has varied dramatically.

Some have been taken away on stretchers, weak and emaciated, with arms burnt by the sea salt.

Others have arrived in good health, needing little medical assistance at all.

One policeman guarding the latest arrivals told the gathered journalists not to be taken in by stories of hardship and days at sea.

"If they had been at sea for 10 days, in open boats, they would not be in the state they are in," he said.

"Where are the signs of salt from the sea, the sunburn, legs that have been soaked in water for 10 days? Some of these are arriving fresher than lettuce. Something else is happening out there."

There is a theory that the cayucos are being loaded up with passengers from bigger boats when they are within closer range of the Canaries.

Or here:
More than 20,000 African migrants have been intercepted so far this year in and on the Spanish coasts, and the number for August alone exceeds that for all of last year, according to Spanish authorities.

Migrants who survive the risky voyage across rough waters and make it to Spanish territory are kept in holding centres. Authorities then have 40 days in which to repatriate or release them. The immigrants are either sent back to their country of origin or to the country from which they set sail, if Spain has repatriation accords with that country.

Malta, Italy and Greece have similar problems with scores of desperate Africans seeking better standards of living in Europe.

Home affairs ministers from Malta, Italy and Libya will meet in Valetta this week to discuss the problem.

Photo from here.

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