More people from the Horn of Africa, especially Ethiopia and Somalia, are crossing international borders as irregular migrants — lacking official documentation or approval — drawn by the promise of a better life in the Arabian Peninsula.
“A growing number of Ethiopians opt to undergo a perilous journey through the Gulf of Aden, hoping to get to the Middle East via Yemen,” said Demissew Bizuwerk, a communication officer for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ethiopia.
“A significant proportion travel with little or no information about what they will be encountering, and they are, in one way or the other, misled, mistreated and often abused.”
Between January 1 and November 30, some 99, 620 migrants arrived in Yemen, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). By comparison over 103,000 arrived in 2011, more than 53,000 in 2010, and over 77,800 in 2009.
The Obock area in northern Djibouti is a popular transit point for irregular migrants heading to Yemen, who travel there from points on the Ethiopian and Somali borders.
“Some arrive in the afternoon and cross at night; a good part of the journey is done far from towns at night,” said Bakary Doumbia, the IOM chief of mission in Djibouti.