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    African Migrants in Yemen 'A Commodity' for People Smugglers - IOM

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    The United Nations is calling for more protection from people smugglers for migrants entering Yemen.

    It's estimated 7,000 African migrants are arriving in Yemen each month; leaving home on foot and walking through Djibouti before catching a boat across the Gulf of Aden where they head north to the border with Saudi Arabia.

    "They are just a commodity to smugglers," Mohammed Abdiker, director of operations and emergencies at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.

    "Something to make quick and easy money from and, if they die, the smugglers do not care as there are thousands of other people willing to pay for their services and risk their lives to simply build their parents a house, put their brother through school, or for any opportunity at all," Abdiker added.

    According to the IOM, migrants risk being exploited by smugglers, often physically and sexually abused, tortured or made to work for nothing.

    In August 2017, Ethiopian and Somali teenagers were forced into the sea by smugglers off the coast of Yemen and drowned.

    Cholera is spreading across the country, blamed on the civil war which still rages, by October 2017, it was predicted that 800,000 people were affected by the disease.

    "Yemen is experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world; it is obviously not a safe route for migrants, nor is it safe for Yemenis themselves in many areas," Mr. Abdiker said.

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    Yemen's civil war deepened in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition intensified military operations against Houthi rebels who control the capital Sana'a, the United Nations stated.

    "The Secretary-General reminds all parties to the conflict that they must uphold international humanitarian law, including taking steps to protect civilians," said a statement issued on behalf of the Secretary General, by his Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

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    According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) the Saudi-led coalition has been using British supplied fighter planes since the beginning of its military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen in 2015. 

    If migrants don't fall prey to the criminal gangs and people smugglers, they find themselves in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, a cholera epidemic and conflict zone.

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    Tags:
    people smugglers, exploitation, war, trafficking, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
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