Djibouti city is the first major stage in the harrowing journey to Yemen, here or at sea all possessions, including mobile phones, cash and clothes are stolen, by smugglers, corrupt police or border guards. The journey to Djibouti’s capital is harsh and dangerous, in which many Ethiopian migrants die of starvation, dehydration or are killed by bandits. The Danish Refugee Council report, ‘Desperate Choices’, states, and wait for days or weeks for favourable conditions to cross the perilous waters of the Gulf of Aden, in flimsy boats manned by vicious criminal gangs. The ordeal of women begins in Djibouti, DRC report an Ethiopian man recounting the sea passage when “four Yemeni smugglers were on board the boat. They raped the girls in front of us, we were not able to move or to speak, and those girls were already sold to Yemeni traffickers.” Many are abducted and held captive, sometimes for months on end, their experiences are harrowing in the extreme.
On arrival in Yemen men and women are separated, wives taken from husbands, daughters from Fathers brothers from sisters. Trafficking and multiple rape of women is widespread, IRIN 12/03/12 state “the majority of the approximately 3,000 women held by smugglers in Haradh [on the border with Saudi Arabia] over the past year were raped, many of them repeatedly.”
Corruption is endemic, with security officials coordinating with smugglers on the border with Saudi Arabia, “a climate of collusion and low political will to apprehend and prosecute smugglers is allowing the trade and abuse of migrants to flourish” (Reuters). The country is run, a military officer on the payroll of the smugglers to the tune of $2,000 a month says, “by tribes not policemen: these people are my friends.” ‘These people’ are turning a bind eye to the murder, rape and trafficking of innocent migrants seeking work to feed their families.
The innocent men women and children from Ethiopia making an impossible choice, with they see no alternatives, are not the villains in this ongoing human tragedy they are the victims trapped in a terrifying nightmare.
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