SANA’A, April 23, 2014 (Yemen Times) —Coastguard and military units on Saturday arrested 115 migrants and refugees traveling in two boats. The detained are from Somalia and Ethiopia.
Shuja Mahdi, the operations director of the Coastguard, said the first boat was encountered near Mayyun island with 75 on board, 15 of them Somalis and four of them women.
Patrols of the 17th Infantry Brigade spotted the second boat carrying 23 Somalis and 17 Ethiopians off the Dubab coast, according to the state-run Saba news agency.
Zaid Alalaya, a senior public information officer at the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said March witnessed the largest influx of migrants and refugees over the last three months.
Refugees arriving in Yemen amounted to 8,148 since the beginning of the year, over 3,000 of whom arrived in March, according to Alalalya. Over 1,000 arrived in February, he added.
New refugee arrivals to Yemen numbered about 103,000 and 107,000 in 2011 and 2012 respectively, according to Alalaya. Last year, the number of refugees arriving in Yemen decreased to below 70,000.
Refugees are kept in transit centers after they arrive in Yemen.
According to Colonel Abdulla Al-Zorqa, he director of the deportation department at the Immigration and Passports Authority, Ethiopians tend to face deportation because their primary motive for migrating is assumed to be related to finding work, while Somalis are granted automatic refugee status on arrival because of the conflict in Somalia.
According to Alalaya, Yemen is a transit country for the refugees who migrate to neighboring countries to search for work opportunities.
“The intensified security procedures on the Yemeni-Saudi borders is a reason behind the decline of the number of refugees in 2013,” said Alalaya.
According to Mahdi, migrants are held in three main detention facilities in Ahwar district of Abyan, Bab el Mandeb in Taiz and Maifa’a district of Shabwa.