Refugee influx to Yemen reaches record high: UN agency
Publisher: Xinhua News Agency
Story date: 20/11/2011
Language: English

GENEVA, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) – The number of refugees and migrants reaching Yemen by boat totaled 12,545 in October, the highest level on record, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.

The number broke the previous monthly record of 12,079 arrivals in September, bringing the total arrivals so far this year to 84,656, overtaking the earlier annual record of 77,000 in 2009, the Geneva-based agency said.

"With the autumn sailing season still in full swing, we expect the numbers for 2011 to grow further," UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said at a press conference.

Somalia and Ethiopian are two major sources of outbound refugees and migrants. Of this year's arrivals, 23,079 are from Somalia, as people keep fleeing the country due to prolonging conflict, insecurity, drought and famine.

The remaining 61,577 people are Ethiopians, who left home for lack of economic and livelihood opportunities, as well as persecution or insecurity in their regions of origin.

"Most arrive in Yemen unaware of the situation there, where insecurity makes further movement difficult and risky," Fleming said, citing an increasing trend of abductions, extortions, kidnappings and sexual assaults targeting refugees, particularly Ethiopian migrants.

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