‘150,000 migrants arrive in Yemen in 2018’

Ethiopian migrants are being evacuated to the Red Sea port of Hodeida to board a ship to leave Yemen. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 December 2018

‘150,000 migrants arrive in Yemen in 2018’

  • Yemen remains a major stop on the route for migrants from Africa to wealthy Gulf states
  • IOM estimated that around 92 percent of the migrants who have entered Yemen this year are Ethiopian

GENEVA: A growing number of migrants are flocking to Yemen, even as its dire humanitarian crisis deepens, with nearly 150,000 expected to arrive in the war-ravaged country in 2018, the UN said Tuesday.

Yemen remains a major stop on the route for migrants from Africa to wealthy Gulf states, and smugglers are taking advantage of the chaos of the war to evade security checks, the International Organization for Migration said.

It forecast that migrant arrivals to Yemen would swell 50 percent this year compared to the some 100,000 people who arrived in the devastated country in 2017.

“We are confident in forecasting migration arrivals to Yemen, a country at war, will reach about 150,000 people this year,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.

He described it as “extraordinary and alarming” that so many people were “crossing a dangerous war zone.”

The country remains on an established route for migrants, who typically first travel by land through Djibouti before eventually undergoing perilous boat journeys across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. From there, they usually try to make their way to other Gulf nations, often in search of work.

IOM estimated that around 92 percent of the migrants who have entered Yemen this year are Ethiopian, while the rest are from Somalia.

About 20 percent of the migrants are minors, “and many of them are unaccompanied,” Millman said.

Asked why there would be such a big jump in numbers at a time when Yemen is spiralling ever deeper into despair, he said it appeared smugglers were actually using the conflict and violence “as marketing points.”

Smugglers, he said, promise migrants an easy passage since the authorities are “way too preoccupied with the civil unrest... to properly monitor the borders.”

“Of course once they get there, it is a very different situation. There are minefields to cross, there are exchanges of gunfire,” he said.

IOM could not provide numbers on how many migrants have died trying to cross through Yemen, but Millman said 156 sea deaths had been confirmed this year on the various sea passages toward Yemen.

“There is no question (the deaths) are underreported,” he said.

Millman stressed that the migrant crisis in Yemen was “an emergency” on a scale that outpaces most large migrant movements in the world.

For instance, he said, “the number 150,000 is considerably more, by tens of thousands, than the forecast for all seaborne irregular migration across the Mediterranean this year.”

In a bid to address the problem, IOM said it would be hosting a conference on Wednesday in Djibouti, bringing together seven countries — Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Somalia and Yemen — aimed to “ensure urgent enhancements in the management of migratory flows to Yemen and the Gulf countries.”

New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

Updated 08 July 2020

New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

  • Regulation of electricity sector a key condition of international bailout for collapsing economy

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s government finally appointed a new board of directors on Tuesday to control the state-owned electricity company.
Electricite du Liban (EDL) has long been mired in allegations of corruption and fraud. Its annual losses of up to $2 billion a year are the biggest single drain on state finances as Lebanon faces economic collapse and the plunging value of its currency.
Reform of the electricity sector has been a key demand of the International Monetary Fund and potential donor states before they will consider a financial bailout.
“Lebanon’s electricity policy has been inefficient and ineffective for decades — always on the brink of collapse, but staying afloat with last minute patchwork solutions,” said Kareem Chehayeb of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, DC.
“The economic crisis has made fuel imports more expensive, causing a shortage, with external generator providers hiking their prices or seeking business in Syria. It is a wake-up call to decades of overspending and poor planning of a basic public service.”
The World Bank has described the electricity sector in Lebanon as “tainted with corruption and waste,” and the IMF said “canceling the subsidy to electricity is the most important potential saving in spending.”
Electricity rationing was applied for the first time to hospitals and the law courts, but Minister of Energy Raymond Ghajar said: “The first vessel loaded with diesel for power plants has arrived, and as of Wednesday the power supply will improve.”
Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised the Lebanese people on Tuesday that they would see the results of government efforts to resolve the country’s financial chaos “in the coming weeks.”
Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Diab said: “The glimmer of hope is growing.” However, the appointment of an  EDF board of directors was criticized by opposition politicians. Former prime minister Najib Mikati said the appointments meant “the crime of wrong prevailing over right … is being repeated.”