Yemen has become a haven for refugees. Thousands of refugees have fled from Iraq, Ethiopia, and Somalia to Yemen. They have sought shelter from warfare and to begin a new life. This massive influx of people has overwhelmed the Yemen government and is creating a possibility of a future “human disaster.” (News Yemen)
Since the Iran-Iraq war, many Iraqis have fled to Yemen. They have been treated better in Yemen than in Jordan or Syria, and thus, it is an attractive destination for educated and skilled Iraqis. The 70,000 Iraqis in Yemen have thrived. They have been treated by the principles of Arab Unity. This means the Yemeni government has extended “rights to work, education, and social benefits on the basis of their being Arabs.” (YEMEN: Iraqi migrants, refugees await brighter future IRIN.) Although the Iraqis have spurred the Yemen economy, the Yemeni government recently passed legislation requiring Iraqis entering the country to obtain a visa to slow down immigration.
The Oromos from Ethiopia have poorly treated in Yemen. They have sought refuge from Eithopia. “We have come to Yemen in order to escape persecution, torture and killings by the Ethiopian government,” according to Jamal Abdowaday, an Oromo leader in Sana’a. (ETHIOPIA-YEMEN: Oromo migrants fear deportation. IRIN). Their fear of the Ethiopian government has placed them in position without bargaining power, since their greatest fear is deportation. This has made them susceptible to abuses. Oromos claim local Yemenis mistreat them. “We are subject to harassment, arrests, and discrimination . . . Our children can’t go to school. They are deprived of education… They have become like animals confined in small rooms. They can’t play in the streets for fear of being beaten or harassed by local children,” Abdowaday added. Id. However, the Yemen government denies these allegations and claims that it has treated the Oromos fairly.
The largest influx of refugees lately has been Somalis. In July alone, 18,000 Somalis have fled Mogadishu. This has lead to Somalis flooding to Yemen, creating dangerous situations for both the migrants and the Yemen government. Recently, the UN reported that at least 367 Somalis have died trying to cross into the border. (Voice of America.) However, 10,000 Somali refugees enter in Yemen every year, bringing the Somali refugee court to about 64,000 in Yemen. This influx of refugees has created a strain on the government as it struggles to provide for the refugees.
The large numbers of refugees has become a difficult problem for the Yemen government. It strains the nation’s weak economy, and compounds Yemen’s other problems, such as stabilizing the Sa’ana region and eradicating Yemen’s ties with terrorist groups. Yemen has more closely monitored its media, furthering the problem for the refugees as the voices raising awareness of the refugees’ plight are being quieted. This could create a future disaster for the refugees, if the Yemeni government cuts corners for the refugees and ignores them to focus on the nation’s other problems, because the plight of the refugees would not be focused on by the official state sponsored media.
News Yemen. Yemen faces critical troubles due to refugees influx. 28 July 2007.
IRIN. ETHIOPIA-YEMEN: Oromo migrants fear deportation. 30 May 2007.
IRIN. YEMEN: Somali refugees protest perceived injustices. 27 November 2005.
IRIN. YEMEN: Iraqi migrants, refugees await brighter future. 1 July 2007.
Somalia News. Somalia: Yemen deports Somali refugees. 26 July 2007.
Voice of America. UN: At Least 367 Somali Refugees Killed Trying to Cross Into Yemen. 10 July 2007.
Relief Web. Somalia: Situation Report. 27 July 2007.