Journey into the Unknown: African migrants in Yemen


Many migrants from East Africa take an escape route, the unknown, is cheaper and even more dangerous than the Mediterranean sea: you cross the Gulf of Aden, and land in embattled Yemen. From Aden Fanny Facsar.

Between the Yemeni coast and the city of Aden, a March through the desert

We left Aden hardly in the direction of the desert, as we dozens of refugees, on foot, with their few possessions. Your feet are bruised from the long way. Many of them have days-long marches to get to and from the country points to the Yemeni coast, where they were with the boats landed, to Aden.

One of the migrants, with whom I am speaking, is still a child. “My Name is Saidu. I’m 13 years old. I’m from Ethiopia,” he introduces himself. His brother next to him says to the question of what he was looking for, only a single word: “Birr”, the Ethiopian currency is called. “Money,” he adds.

Money, work a little stability – this is what we hope to find tens of thousands who embark on the dangerous journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen.

The 13-year-old Saidu (right) with his brother

Arrive in the war zone

But Yemen is anything but stable. For a good four years of war in the country rages. By the end of 2014 captured Houthi rebels in the capital of Sanaa and plunged the government. In March 2015, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition attacked the Shiite rebels. The fighting has developed into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran supports the Houthis.

But beyond all of this, the majority of migrants arriving in Yemen know little.

Also read: escape in the war – from Africa to Yemen

On the road I meet the next young Africans. He is 25 and told that he was traumatized by the dangerous Crossing. “When we got on the boat, there was no water, no food. It was too windy. Some people had to stand, while others sat. The boat was completely overcrowded.”

Those who make it to Land, then have to run for days through the desert. The mainly young men pay several hundred dollars to come to Yemen. Actually, many want to continue to Saudi Arabia. But with all the uncertainties and imponderables in Yemen is completely unclear where their journey ends.

How many people is not at all depart from East Africa to Yemen is known. Estimates range from 50,000 to 150,000 per year, but in a war zone is hardly a serious check. Even weather and sea state have, in the short term influence on how many cars are in Djibouti, on a boat.

Many have mangled feet from the long March

The migration of unknown and cheaper than those by the Sudan and Libya to Europe is a route – but she is dangerous. Because of the war in the Yemen is also littered with land mines.

“Many of them never come into Saudi Arabia”

A car of a relief organization approaches. The employees do not want to be quoted, tell, however, that most of the refugees Saudi-reach Arabia never. “Most of them, 90 percent, or 85, stuck in Aden. In Dhale, the war is raging,” says the headquarters of the man on the driver. He transported some boxes with water, dates and biscuits. He gives some of it through the window, whenever he encountered migrants on the roadside. And he is one of you, so he knows how many to run you over.

The place Dhale, of which the assistant speaks, lies on the border between two areas controlled by the Yemeni government-in-exile and the Houthi rebels. To get to Saudi Arabia, to both the refugees cross. The danger is great for you to get here, literally between the fronts.

Traffickers profit from lawlessness

In Aden I meet a Yemeni smugglers, who wants to remain anonymous. The war in Yemen had made him to the smugglers, he says: “There are no Jobs, we just sit around and there is no work, except the sea.” In a country where no one is monitoring compliance with the laws, the human Smuggling a profitable business. He says he earn the equivalent of 400 US Dollar with any migrants.

So, while the Yemenis are struggling with poverty and unemployment, street another group: immigrants from Africa landed in their midst.

DW correspondent Fanny Facsar in the Interview

Abdi came two months ago from Ethiopia. He told that he had been beaten by Smugglers, and no more money has to continue his journey. Other migrants, he advises, the journey is not even to compete. “I want to tell you, you better not have come in Yemen. Not once, and from there to another country for you to travel. You should better stay in their home country.”

Also read: “a foreclosure not only helps the traffickers”

However, the prospect of a better life in Saudi Arabia is likely to bring many more migrants to make their way – even if he leads in a country that has as many problems as Yemen.