Yemen deports more than 2500 African refugees
Source: Yemen Times, 1/04/2013
Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki (author), Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki (photographer)
Illegal migrants complain about the lack of access to work in Yemen.
SANA'A,— The Deportation Department in the Immigration and Passport Authority has extradited 2,500 illegal African migrants from Yemen since the beginning of 2013, according to officials.
In March alone, 850 migrants have been detained and returned to their home countries, Abdullah Ali Al-Zurka, the director of the Deportation Department, said.
A majority of the migrants have been caught in the northern governorate of Sada'a, Al-Zurka said. African migrants are often caught in the north trying to cross the border to Saudi Arabia.
“The rich neighboring countries are the reason for this influx because the African migrants use Yemen as the stepping stone towards these countries,” said Saba Al-Mualimi, the coordinator for the voluntary return department in the International Organization for Migration. “Only a few stay in Yemen. Yemen is not their goal, given the economic situation in the country.”
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) released a report late last month, stating that an estimated 17,700 refugees entered Yemen from January to February this year. Almost 15,000 of the refugees were Ethiopian and 2,700 were from Somali. Very few were not from those two countries.
Al-Mualimi says IOM's numbers are different but he said both figures present a “catastrophic” situation.
Economic experts estimate African refugees cost Yemen YR2 billion, over $9 million a year in health care, education and transportation costs.
“This is a huge amount at a time when Yemen’s economy is continuously deteriorating,” said Mustfa Nassr, an economist at the Studies and Economic Media Center in Sana'a. “Yemen cannot accommodate this number.”
Al-Zurka says the Yemeni government is stepping up its patrols at Yemen's various border crossings to keep the influx of refugees from entering the country.