Feature: Hundreds of illegal African migrants flock to Yemen despite instability

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-23 01:19:54|Editor: Xiaoxia
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Illegal African migrants detained by local security authorities are seen at a sports stadium and wait to be transferred back to their countries, in Aden city, Yemen, on April 22, 2019. Hundreds of illegal African migrants continue flocking into several southern Yemeni provinces despite the ongoing military conflict taking place in the war-ravaged Arab country. (Xinhua/Murad Abdo)

by Murad Abdo

ADEN, Yemen, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of illegal African migrants continue flocking into several southern Yemeni provinces despite the ongoing military conflict taking place in the war-ravaged Arab country.

Many African migrants and asylum seekers, mostly from Ethiopia and other countries, continue to arrive in the southern port city of Aden, where the Saudi-backed Yemeni government is temporarily based since 2015.

The Yemeni security authorities began a detention campaign against hundreds of illegal African migrants who arrived in Aden over fear of being recruited by militant group for military activities.

The security campaign ended up in seizing large numbers of illegal African migrants who were collected by different security patrols from Aden's main streets and placed inside a sports stadium in the city.

But the newly-recruited security authorities in Aden face problems and still haven't decided the post-seizure procedures regarding the fate of the detained migrants.

A security official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Xinhua that the country's southern provinces witnessed an unprecedented arrival of illegal African migrants during the past months despite the lack of stability in Yemen.

"Fears spiked in the southern provinces that the streets in Aden will become crowded with illegal migrants coming from Ethiopia, Somalia and other African countries," he said.

He said that "reports indicated that some militant groups started to exploit the African migrants and recruit them to join the ongoing fighting."

"So the security authorities began a campaign and detained more than 850 illegal African migrants but till now don't have the necessary capabilities to deal with those large numbers who are still arriving," the source added.

The local government authorities in Aden started communications with refugee organizations to provide necessary procedures regarding where the detained African migrants would be transferred and how they would be dealt with.

A government source called for a broader action from the United Nations organizations to help deal with the detained African migrants as "Aden's security authorities do not have enough budget to feed them."

In addition, medical officials based in Aden confirmed to Xinhua that two government's hospitals received a number of illegal African migrants infected with cholera and other diseases.

Earlier in the day, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced that 115 Somali refugees stranded in Yemen left from Aden port to return home, as part of the Assisted Spontaneous Return Programme. Just over 40 of the passengers were children.

Hundreds of African illegal migrants looking for better life were using Yemen as a transit point to their final destination, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

The illegal migrants coming from the horn of Africa reportedly face abuses by smugglers and other criminals, including arbitrary detention.

Scores of illegal migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia have died off the coast of Yemen in recent months.

The impoverished Arab country has been plagued in a civil war since late 2014. The war taking place between the Yemeni government forces and the Houthi rebels has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis, mostly civilians.

The long-running Yemeni conflict has caused the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Currently, some 24 million Yemenis, or 80 percent of the entire population, need humanitarian aid and protection, with some 20 million lacking security of food, according to the United Nations.

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