Yemen: Conference on Gulf of Aden crossings
High Commissioner António Guterres yesterday (Monday) opened a conference in Sana'a, Yemen on "Refugee Protection and International Migration in the Gulf of Aden", on the final stage of his five-day visit to the country. Mr Guterres praised Yemen for providing protection to people making the dangerous Gulf of Aden crossing from Somalia, but said the international community should do more to help.
UNHCR and other international agencies have stepped up their efforts to assist Yemen and other countries in the region, and are jointly calling for global action to better address the challenges. So far this year, more than 18,000 people have made the perilous Gulf of Aden crossing aboard smugglers' boats, double the number for the same period a year ago. More than 400 people have died trying to make the voyage this year.
The Sana'a conference brings together high-level government officials from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation countries as well as representatives of civil society and international organizations. Members of the African Union and the European Commission (EC) are also attending.
The two-day conference aims to establish a regional mechanism and a longer-term plan of action on refugee protection and mixed migration in the Gulf of Aden region. Organized by UNHCR and the Mixed Migration Task Force for Somalia, the conference is being funded by the EC.
Participants are presently reviewing the challenges in the main countries of departure, transit and arrival in the region and working to develop appropriate responses. The resulting recommendations and action plan will in part be based on a 10-Point Plan developed by UNHCR in 2006 to assist governments in developing protection-sensitive migration strategies.