Almotamar.net - Hundreds of Somali refugees who crossed the Gulf of Aden in overcrowded smugglers' boats to Yemen said they had fled the extremist policies of the Islamic Courts movement that controls much of Somalia, a UN agency said Friday.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement that at least 18 Somalis and Ethiopians died during the past eight days and 17 others were still missing after they were dropped from human traffickers' boats off Yemen's coast.
It said those victims were among nearly 1,500 Somalis and Ethiopians who arrived at the Yemen coast during the same period. "Most new arrivals told our teams that they were from southern and central Somalia, where they claim their freedom has been significantly curtailed since the region came under the control earlier this year of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU)," the UNHCR's statement said.
Somalia has been without a functioning central government since 1991. The ICU has taken control of most of southern and central Somalia since its forces seized the capital Mogadishu in June.
"They also cite an increase in inter-tribal and inter-clan conflict and say they fear for their lives," the statement added. The statement quoted Somali refugees as saying that the ICU has ruled that "men must be the sole family breadwinners and that women are expected to stay at home."
Somali migrants often cite insecurity, drought and economic hardship as reasons for leaving the Horn of Africa country.
According to the UNHCR, more than 22,000 people have crossed the Gulf of Aden from Somalia to Yemen this year in smugglers' boats. At least 355 were not able to make it to shore alive, while more than 150 are missing, the UN agency said.
The latest surge began in September when smugglers once again began sailing rickety, overcrowded boats across the Gulf of Aden with the onset of calmer weather.
Smugglers frequently beat their passengers or force them overboard into the deep waters of the Gulf of Aden while still far from shore, sometimes with their hands tied behind their backs.
The Saudi aggression’s warplanes and warships continued to breach the ceasefire on Saturday in the provinces of Hodeidah, Taiz and Mareb, a military official said.
The official explained that the battleships of the Saudi aggression opened fire on the coastal city of Mocha in Taiz, while the surveillance planes continued flying in the sky of Thubab district and the western coast of Taiz.
The National delegation met on Thursday in Kuwait with eighteen ambassadors to Yemen.
During the meeting, the delegation members reviewed with the ambassadors the economic conditions in the country because of the aggression and the restrictions imposed on the Yemeni people, particularly obstructing ships movements, trade, transactions of the Central Bank of Yemen.
They stressed the need for a actual ceasefire and all military operations, affirming that Yemen needs an urgent political solution, taking into consideration the economic and security situations.
The national delegation stressed that after the 18 month-long aggression against Yemen, the other party cannot be recognized as legitimate regarding arms handover and the rest of procedural steps.
It is not difficult to form a consensual transitional government and it is possible to be agreed upon in principle, they said.
The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, has concluded his evaluative visit to the province of Sa’ada.
The UN official urged all warring parties to maintain their commitment to the cessation of hostilities and allowing unconditional access to humanitarian organizations.
McGoldrick also requested from the international community to increase the level of support provided to Yemen.
"It is not possible to stop the suffering in Yemen only through finding a political solution", he said, hoping to continue the cessation of hostilities to allow expanding the humanitarian activities and paving the way for peace.
McGoldrick met, during his visit, with Sa'ada Governor, the Executive Council of the province and local authorities in Al-Qutaber to discuss the need for increasing support in the areas of quartering, health and education.
He urged to maintain the health and educational facilities protected as neutral facilities during armed conflicts.
Emir of Kuwait Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah received on Tuesday the national delegation headed by Mohamed Abdul-Salam and Aref al-Zoka.
In the meeting, al-Sabah confirmed his country's keenness on bringing peace in Yemen and reaching a peaceful solution, hoping that the peace talks in Kuwait will reach a comprehensive solution for the country.
The Emir of Kuwait stressed his keenness on stopping hostilities in Yemen, pointing that the efforts made by Kuwait aimed to succeed the talks.
For his part, Mohammed Abdulsalam affirmed the importance of the Kuwaiti role in bringing peace in Yemen, conforming the position of the national forces to find a just solution in Yemen.
The UN envoy to Yemen confirmed on Monday that the consensus of the participants in Yemeni peace talks held in Kuwait on bringing peace makes reaching a solution possible.
"There is no doubt that there are significant differences in views, but the consensus of the participants to bring peace makes it possible to reach a solution,” the UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a statement issued after the talks session Monday.
“There are only two options; either to continue the war or to consult and make concessions in order to achieve peace and all parties should assume responsibility for their decisions,” the UN envoy added.
The Saudi-led coalition has continued to fly intensively on the skies of many provinces, including Sana'a, Taiz, Mareb, Sa'ada, Mahweet, Lahj, Hajjah, Shabwa, Hodeida, Jawf.
A military official said the Riyadh's hirelings targeted the army and popular committees' sites in areas of Beer Basha, al-Khalel in Khadir district, in Jahmaliyah, Klabah, al-Salal and 40 Street in al-Dhamgah district in Taiz with light and medium weapons.
Moreover, the Riyadh's hirelings pounded the army and popular committees sites in al-Shabakah area, al-Ghawi Mount and al-Ain Mount, al-Jurf Mount, al-Shuqairah valley, Hasanat area with mortars in al-Waze'yah district of Taiz, according to the official.
The army and popular committees sites were also targeted by the mercenaries in Nehm district of Sana'a province.
In Mareb province, the hirelings bombarded the army and popular committees sites in al-Mashjah, Hilan Mount, al-Rabiah in Serwah district with medium and heavy weapons.
The Saudi fighter jets dropped flare bombs on different areas of Razeh district in Sa'ada, he said.
The hirelings pounded also areas in al-Ghail and al-Moton districts and targeted sites of the army and popular committees Aibar valley in Jawf with light weapons.