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After a long sea journey

Yemen – With a heavy heart I recall the desperate conditions of most new arrivals who reached the shores of Yemen after a long journey across the Gulf of Yemen and the Red Sea. I have vivid memories of malnourished, dehydrated and traumatized Africans who had survived the most unspeakable violence at the hands of ruthless smugglers.

Upon arrival in Yemen, UNHCR and its partners provide refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from the Horn of Africa with water, food and medical care, before transporting them to one of the three reception centres along the Yemen’s coast. Here they can rest for few days to restore their energy before proceeding on their journey.

Somalis are automatically recognized as refugees, while other nationalities struggle to obtain the same level of protection. Ethiopians, who have made up the majority of arrivals since 2009, often use Yemen as a transit country to reach the richer Gulf countries in search of jobs, while most Somalis, especially families, often opt for settling down in Yemen. The most vulnerable Somali refugees are given shelter and assistance in Kharaz camp.

From January 2008 through December 2011, more than 284,000 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from the Horn Africa made the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Among those who made the crossing over the same four-year period, some 1,100 are known to have drowned according to UNHCR.

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