The UNHCR reports that there has been an almost 100% increase in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants who crossed the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea from Africa to Yemen in 2011 compared to 2010. 103,000 migrants are estimated to have made the sea crossing in 2011 compared to an estimated 53,000 in 2010. 130 persons are known to have drowned. Ethiopians now make up the largest nationality making the voyage, accounting for about 75% of the total. Prior to 2009 Somalis were the largest group.
Category Archives: Eritrea
On Thursday last week, a Maltese AFM patrol boat searching for survivors from Wednesday’s sinking of the migrant boat near Lampedusa encountered another migrant boat with 171 migrants and removed the migrants from the overcrowded boat. The rescue occurred approximately 54 nautical miles from Lampedusa and 91 nautical miles from Malta. The Maltese patrol boat attempted to disembark the migrants at the closer port in Lampedusa but was denied entry into the port. The migrants were then taken to Malta – an eight hour sail from Lampedusa. Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, Malta’s Interior Minister, accused Italy of reneging on its “legal and humanitarian obligations” due to its failure to allow the migrants to be taken to the closer port. The migrants involved have said they are Eritrean and Libyan. If accurate, these may be the first Libyans to have been detected leaving by sea.
From the Times of Malta (sources: Home Affairs Ministry and parliamentary replies) and as noted on EASO Monitor:
Nationalities of migrants who arrived last week
- Somalia – 411
- Eritrea – 250
- Ethiopia – 87
- Ivory Coast – 26
- Mali – 16
- Pakistan – 14
- Sudan – 6
- Nigeria – 6
- Yemen – 2
- Mauritania – 1
- Total: 819
Migrants in Malta before Libya crisis
- Held in detention: 79
- Living in open centres: 2,224
- Living in the community: 1,400
- Total: 3,703
Migrant arrivals in previous years
- 2007: 1,702
- 2008: 2,775
- 2009: 1,397
- 2010: 27
Click here for article.
Here is a short AFP article about Father Mussie Zerai who is in frequent contact by satellite phone with African refugees in Libya and with those who are in the process of leaving Libya: “A few steps away from St Peter’s Basilica, an Eritrean Catholic priest is on the phone with boats in the middle of the Mediterranean filled with African refugees fleeing Libya. Mussie Zerai receives calls from satellite phones on the boats and co-ordinates the arrival of hundreds of Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis with Italy’s coast guard and the NATO warships imposing a naval embargo on Libya….”
Click here for article.
Father Zerai’s organisation’s blog: habeshia.blogspot.com/
UPDATE: If you have information about a family member or friend who may be on a boat or if you are seeking information, please consider contacting the Agenzia Habeshia per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo in Italy at this email address: email@example.com .
UPDATE: Click here for 19 April 2011 BBC article.
A boat carrying approximately 350 African migrants or asylum seekers from Libya has been intercepted and is being diverted to the Italian island of Linosa between Malta and Lampedusa. There have been reports over the past several days that the migrant boat was at sea. A Canadian navy ship, probably the frigate HMCS Charlottetown, first intercepted and boarded the migrant boat to determine whether the passengers required immediate rescue or not and to provide a pump. The migrant boat was allowed to proceed. An Italian navy helicopter later rescued a woman who gave birth on the boat. The woman, the newborn baby, the father, and a second pregnant woman were removed from the migrant boat and taken to hospitals on Lampedusa and Sicily. The Italian navy said that the migrant boat will be taken to Linosa rather than Lampedusa. UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini is quoted by AFP as saying that “[t]his is the first boat coming from Libya with people fleeing the military escalation, the vendettas and the retaliation attacks and that “the people on board the boat required ‘international protection’”. AFP also reported that “Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest in Italy who has been in direct contact with the vessel via a satellite phone, said conditions on the boat were extremely difficult with around 10 children and 20 women on board. He said the people were mostly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalians.” Zerai also “said four or five other boats carrying African migrants had … left Libyan shores carrying around 1,000 people.”
Several organizations, including Gruppo EveryOne, are making an appeal on behalf of a group of 80 Eritreans who are reportedly being held by traffickers at the Egypt-Israel border. The Eritreans apparently departed Tripoli en route to Israel. This incident provides anecdotal evidence that African asylum seekers are attempting to enter Israel because the Central Mediterranean sea route to Europe has for all practical purposes been closed by the Italian-Libyan push-back practice in effect since May 2009.