"Latest data on sea arrivals in Yemen shows that despite the ongoing conflict some 92,446 people arrived by boat there in 2015. This is one of the highest annual totals of the past decade. A full two thirds arrived since March 2015 when the conflict began," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said in briefing notes published on the agency's website.
Almost 90 percent of the migrants came from neighboring Ethiopia, the spokesman said, adding that only 2011 and 2012 saw higher refugee numbers arriving in Yemen.
With most arrivals taking place across the Arabian Sea, and with some 95 reported migrant deaths in 2015, the UN refugee agency warned potential migrant deaths during the dangerous crossings in overcrowded and unseaworthy boats. Migrant routes into Yemen have moved away from the Red Sea, the spokesman said. The country's conflict, centered on the Taizz governorate on the Red Sea coast, may have been the chief reason for the change, he added.
Since early 2015, Yemen has been locked in a military conflict between Houthi rebels and pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries. The coalition has been bombing Houthi positions in Yemen at the request of the country's president since last March. Yemen itself is suffering from a massive internal refugee problem, with over 2.5 million internally displaced and 168,000 having fled abroad, according to UN figures.