Yemeni Authorities Try to Contain Clashes Between Ethiopian Immigrants That Killed 10

Ethiopian migrants in Yemen call on international organizations to facilitate their return to their homeland (AFP)
Ethiopian migrants in Yemen call on international organizations to facilitate their return to their homeland (AFP)

Yemeni Authorities Try to Contain Clashes Between Ethiopian Immigrants That Killed 10

Ethiopian migrants in Yemen call on international organizations to facilitate their return to their homeland (AFP)
Ethiopian migrants in Yemen call on international organizations to facilitate their return to their homeland (AFP)

The Yemeni security authorities launched a campaign in Aden to contain the bloody clash between Ethiopian immigrants, which killed ten and injured dozens of others.

Yemeni sources reported that the authorities in Aden are transferring migrants to temporary camps in Mansoura and Sheikh Othman.

According to the sources, although the security forces ended the clashes, the issue persists, and police vehicles were seen in the streets transporting migrants to a gathering point near the Basateen camp in Sheikh Othman District.

The Yemeni police and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) remained silent about the reasons for the outbreak of confrontations.

The President of Oromo Human Rights, Arafat Jibril Barki, stated that the main reason for the confrontations was the refusal of the Ethiopian authorities to receive migrants from the Amhara and Tigray nationalities.

Ethiopia denied their entrance because of the security conditions in the regions and only accepted nationals of the Oromo ethnicity.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Jibril said the problem began last Thursday in front of the office of the International Organization for Migration.

The migrants were demanding to return to their country, but the Ethiopian government asked the UN not to allow the return of two ethnic groups. The individuals banned from traveling attacked the international immigration representative and one of the guards.

Arafat Jibril reported that the protesters tore up a travel ticket given to an Oromo national, and one of them stabbed an employee while the guard responded and shot the attacker, killing him.

Clashes began and expanded to other areas, killing ten, six of whom were from Amhara, one from Tigray, and three from Oromo.

The official stated that the news of excluding the Amhara and Tigray ethnicities spread quickly among migrants, which led to heated discussions that developed into violent clashes before the security forces intervened.

- Yemeni tries to contain the situation

The Yemeni authorities proceeded with their campaigns against illegal immigrants and are discussing the issue with international organizations.

Government sources confirmed that transferring them to the Kharaz camp in Lahj is the best option, given the complexities associated with the internal situation in Ethiopia.

Yemeni officials told Asharq Al-Awsat that the largest Kharaz camp in the country lacks many services. But it is the only place capable of accommodating the thousands of migrants pouring in, exceeding 86,000 over the past months.

Officials confirmed that thousands of migrants wanted to return to their country after discovering that smugglers deceived them, bringing them to a nation at war rather than taking them to the Gulf.

The International Organization for Migration had suspended the voluntary return program for thousands of migrants due to lack of funding, but it has recently reactivated it.

UN estimates indicate that the number of African immigrants in Yemen exceeds 200,000, including 43,000 stranded people.

The organization explains that thousands of migrants are unable to continue their journey onward. They cannot return to their countries of origin and are currently living in dire humanitarian conditions.

According to the organization that monitors and tracks the movement of migrants and internal displacement, thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa continued to flow to Yemen.

About 11,000 immigrants have returned to their home countries as part of the voluntary return program, as the organization works to support stranded migrants to ensure a safer return.

One Year Later, Migrants Who Cheated Death Off Greece Seek Justice

A boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean. Reuters file photo
A boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean. Reuters file photo

One Year Later, Migrants Who Cheated Death Off Greece Seek Justice

A boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean. Reuters file photo
A boat carrying migrants in the Mediterranean. Reuters file photo

Desperate hands clutched at Ali Elwan's arms, legs and neck, and screams misted his ears, as he spat out saltwater and fought for three hours to keep afloat in the night, dozens of miles from land.
Although a poor swimmer, he lived — one of just 104 survivors from the wreck of a dilapidated old metal fishing boat smuggling up to 750 migrants from North Africa to Europe.
“I was so, so lucky,” the 30-year-old Egyptian told The Associated Press in Athens, Greece, where he works odd jobs while he waits to hear the outcome of his asylum application. “I have two babies. Maybe I stay(ed) in this life for them.”
Thousands have died in Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks in recent years as migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa seek a better life in the affluent European Union.
But the sinking of the Adriana a year ago Friday in international waters 75 kilometers (45 miles) off Pylos in southern Greece was one of the worst. Only 82 bodies were recovered, so that hundreds of families still lack even the grim certitude that their relatives are dead.
Elwan, a cook whose wife and children are in Cairo, says he still gets phone calls from Egypt from mothers, brothers and wives of the missing.
“We (left) home to get the best life for the family and until now (their families) know nothing about them,” he said.
And after a year there are only hazy answers as to why so many lives were lost, what caused the shipwreck and who can be held answerable.
Migrant charities and human rights groups have strongly criticized Greece's handling of the sinking and its aftermath.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said Thursday “a credible process for accountability” was needed.
“It is unconscionable that one year since this horrific tragedy, the investigation into the potential liability of (Greece’s) Coast Guard has barely progressed,” HRW official Judith Sunderland said in the groups' joint statement.
The Greek coast guard, migration ministry and other officials did not respond to AP requests for comment ahead of the anniversary.
Authorities had a coast guard boat on the scene and merchant ships in the vicinity during the trawler's last hours. They blame smugglers who crammed hundreds of people into an unseaworthy vessel — most in an airless hold designed to store a catch of fish — for a nightmare voyage from Libya to Italy.
They also say the Adriana capsized when its passengers — some of whom wanted to press on for Italy after five dreadful days at sea, others to seek safety in Greece — suddenly surged to one side, causing it to lurch and turn turtle. And they insist that offers to take the migrants off the ship were rebuffed by people set on reaching Italy.
Elwan — who says he was on deck with a clear view of what happened — and other survivors say the lurching followed a botched coast guard attempt to tow the trawler. He claimed the coast guard hurriedly cut the towline when it became evident the Adriana would sink and drag their boat down with it.
“If you find the ship (at the bottom of the sea), you will find this rope” still attached to it, he said.
But the logistics make such a feat nigh-on impossible, Greek authorities say, as the ship rests some 5 kilometers (more than 3 miles) down, at one of the Mediterranean's deepest points.
The coast guard has denied any towing attempt, and allegations that its vessel tried to shift the trawler into neighboring Italy's area of responsibility.
A naval court began investigating last June, but has released no information on its progress or findings.
Separately, in November Greece's state ombudsman started an independent probe into authorities' handling of the tragedy, bemoaning the coast guard's "express denial” to initiate a disciplinary investigation.
Last month, a Greek court dropped charges against nine Egyptians accused of crewing the Adriana and causing the shipwreck. Without examining evidence for or against them, it determined that Greece lacked jurisdiction as the wreck occurred in international waters.
Effie Doussi, one of the Egyptians' defense lawyers, argued that the ruling was “politically convenient” for Greek authorities.
“It saved the Greek state from being exposed over how the coast guard acted, given their responsibility for rescue,” she said.
Doussi said a full hearing would have included testimony from survivors and other witnesses, and let defense lawyers seek additional evidence from the coast guard, such as potential mobile phone data.
Zeeshan Sarwar, a 28-year-old Pakistani survivor, said he's still waiting for justice, “but apparently there is nothing.”
“I may be looking fine right now, but I am broken from the inside. We are not getting justice,” he told the AP. “We are not receiving any information about the people of coast guard ... that the court has found them guilty or not.”
Elwan, the Egyptian, said he can still only sleep for three or four hours a night.
“I remember every second that happened to me,” he said. “I can’t forget anything because (I) lost friends in this ship.”
The journey that preceded the wreck was also horrendous.
Survivors said Pakistanis were confined in the hold and beaten by the crew if they tried to stir. But Arabic-speaking Egyptians and Syrians enjoyed the relative luxury of the deck. For many, that spelled the difference between life and death when the ship capsized.
“Our condition was very bad on the first day because it was the first time in our life that we were traveling on the sea,” Sarwar said.
“If a person ... tried to vomit, then they used to say that you have to do it right here on your lap, you can’t get (outside),” he said. “On the fifth day, people were fainting because of hunger and thirst. One man died.”
Elwan said he left for Europe secretly, telling his wife he would be away for months, working at an Egyptian Red Sea resort.
He's upset that he's still to be granted asylum, unlike many Syrian survivors who, he said, have moved on to western Europe.
“Only people from Egypt can't get papers,” he said. “I've been working for 10 months to send money for my family ... If someone says come and move rubbish, I will go and move this rubbish, no problem for me.”
If he gets residence papers, Elwan wants to work in Greece and bring his family over.
Otherwise, “I will go to Italy, maybe Germany. I don't know.”