With more than 1,400 people having lost their lives this year while illegally crossing the Gulf of Aden, the United Nations refugee agency has started a new campaign in the Horn of Africa to highlight the dangers of making the perilous voyage to Yemen.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is distributing colourful leaflets containing drawings and text printed in Somali and in three Ethiopian dialects throughout Somalia’s Puntland region, while radio spots have been broadcast since October.
The advocacy campaign, which is currently being extended to South/Central Somalia and Ethiopia, also informs asylum-seekers coming from nearby countries that they can seek asylum directly in Somalia. In addition, it asks host communities to treat migrants humanely.
So far this year, more than 1,400 people – or one out of every 20 – died in the Gulf of Aden, killed by smugglers or drowned at sea, while over 28,300 people made it ashore on 300 boats, UNHCR announced yesterday.
This includes over 150 who lost their lives just this past weekend, UNHCR spokesperson Astrid van Genderen Stort told reporters in Geneva, noting that “once again, the Gulf of Aden has taken its toll.”
Along with the campaign, the agency has stepped up its work in Yemen over the past year under a $7 million operation. It is also planning to expand its presence along the remote, 300-kilometre Yemeni coastline with the opening of two additional field offices next year.