UNHCR worried over rise in migration to Yemen

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Disembarkation of a new arrivals on two boats in the Hadramout district of Yemen. © SHS

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) remains concerned about the increasingly high number of migrants from the Horn of Africa who are making the treacherous sea journey to Yemen.

More than 46,000 people arrived in the country during the first six months of the year, according to agency figures released on Tuesday.

UNHCR reports that numbers have been rising over the past six years, with a record 107,500 asylum seekers arriving in Yemen in 2012.

Melissa Fleming, UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva, says Ethiopians have supplanted Somalis who previously comprised the majority of these migrants.

"Somalis used to make up at least one-third or one-fourth, and now it's mostly Ethiopians. Somalis, as you know, get automatic refugee status; Ethiopians don't. If they apply for asylum, very few do. They would be assessed by UNHCR."

UNHCR says few Ethiopians actually apply for asylum, partly because most are looking to travel beyond Yemen or they do not know how the asylum process works.

As a result, the agency adds, these people are left extremely vulnerable.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’13″

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