Illegal migration on the rise in Gulf of Aden region

Illegal migration on the rise in Gulf of Aden region

Illegal migration on the rise in Gulf of Aden region

The Gulf of Aden is experiencing an unprecedented rise in seaborne migration, with only the Mediterranean Sea recording higher numbers of illegal migrants, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC).

The dramatic increase in the number of East Africans making the hazardous crossing near the Bab el Mandeb Straight is largely down to traffickers, said the commission.

The UNHRC recorded 82,680 crossings between January and November last year, with the majority of migrants being from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea. The migrants generally aim to reach Yemen before travelling overland to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Former Royal Navy officer Glen Forbes revealed that the search-and-rescue capacity in the region was “extremely limited. He explained that reports of incidents in the Sea of Oman were common, but that there was no official source to provide accurate details on the number of migrants at sea.

He went on to reveal that he did not know whether naval authorities monitored the number of vessels that were thought to be carrying illegal migrants in the region, adding that there was also a fear approaching ships being operated by suspected human traffickers for various reasons.

At least 242 people perished in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea in 2014, according to UNHRC figures, although this number may not take into account the estimated 70 Ethiopians who drowned when their boat sank near the coast of Yemen on 6 December.

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