Sana’a: Yemen has said that hundreds of African immigrants have continued to flow in through its coast despite the insecurity that rattles the country.
The Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Sunday that as many as 2,500 African immigrants, including 65 children and 150 women, arrived in Yemen last month. The ministry said that the immigrants sailed in small boats from the Somali Bosaso sea port, and 1,500 of the Africans were Ethiopians and the rest were Somalis.
Yemen fears that some Somali members of Al Qaida could disguise themselves as immigrants in order to sneak into the country to support Yemen’s branch of Al Qaida which is battling government forces in the south.
The ministry also said that the coast guard has been ordered to examine the identity of the new arrivals to prevent militants from entering the country.
Yemen has intensified security measures across the country since April 29 when army forces launched a major offensive on Al Qaida’s pockets in the southern provinces of Shabwah and Abyan.
Also in Taiz province, police stormed on Saturday three walled enclosures used to hide African immigrants as a transit point before smuggling them out of the country. The police arrested the owners of the enclosures and 14 Ethiopian smugglers, according to Al Thawra daily newspaper.
On May 26, Human Right Watch released a distressing report on trafficking and smuggling of African migrants in Yemen. The report highlighted the “torture camps” in the northern Yemeni border town of Haradh where Africans are tortured “to extort money from the migrants’ relatives and friends in Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia”.
Yemen’s president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has frequently complained to international donors that his country cannot alone cope with the influx of immigrants from the Horn of Africa.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) office in Yemen has said that it has registered more than 250,000 refugees, most of them Somalis. But Hadi said last year that his country has more than 1.2 million African refugees.