Good Company

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Good Company

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Somalia: People Smuggling - Refugees Waiting to Cross Gulf of Aden

In an annual warning, UN agencies report up to 12,000 Somali refugees collecting near the port city of Bassaso on Somalia's Gulf of Aden coast awaiting transport in Fighting in Somalia forces more refugees across the Gulf of Aden:
According to our network of partners in Somalia, some 12,000 people have reached and found temporary shelter in the town of Bossaso in northern Somalia since 7 May. There, a majority of them are waiting for the first opportunity offered by smugglers to take the perilous journey across the Gulf. These internally displaced people (IDPs) are part of some 232,000 Somalis who have been forced to leave their homes since 7 May when the fighting between Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam militia groups and government forces erupted in several districts of the Somali capital. Our partners in Bossaso report that the areas where potential migrants usually settle are getting more and more crowded and smugglers are already collecting bookings and cash from Somalis bound for Yemen. As the sea is already very dangerous because of the prevailing weather conditions, the majority of the people are expected to camp in Bossaso and wait for September, when winds are more favourable. In 2008, more than 50,000 new arrivals reached Yemen's shores – a 70% increase from 2007. The trend has continued during the first six months of 2009 with around 30,000 new arrivals – the total for the whole of 2007. It's a dangerous journey. More than 1,000 drowned en route in 2008 as they were thrown overboard or forced to disembark too far from the shore by unscrupulous smugglers. So far this year, almost 300 have died or gone missing.
Expect some bodies on the beaches when the migration continues.

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