Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

“Waiting to be smuggled into Yemen”


“Waiting to be smuggled into Yemen”

6 November 2009 Also available in:
© UNHCR/ K. McKinsey
The fighting in Mogadishu and central Somalia is pushing thousands of Somali civilians to risk their lives to cross the Gulf of Aden and seek asylum in Yemen. Bossasso Beach in Somalia's northeast Puntland region is one of the main departure points for smuggler's boats heading for Yemen. Many don't survive the perilous trip in rough waters on poorly-maintained smugglers' boats.

“Waiting to be smuggled into Yemen”
“I left Mogadishu with my husband and our children one year ago because people told us that Yemen was a good place to live . . . We could only afford only to pay for one place on a smuggler’s boat and my husband went first. He was supposed to send me money so that I could join him with my children. I have received no news since then. I believe he is dead; he must have drowned during the crossing. Now I can neither go back to Mogadishu, which is too dangerous, nor stay here in Bossasso, where there is only poverty for us. I am desperate. I plan to cross to Yemen. My 10-year-old daughter will take care of the younger children while I am away . . . This is not a real life.”

- Hoda, a displaced Somali woman from Mogadishu.

Testimonial: Shocked Somali reaches Yemen

Background info
So far this year, close to 25,000 Somalis have been smuggled into Yemen by boat from northern Somalia, mainly from areas around Bossasso. Most were escaping from violence and poverty in their country. Many lost their lives during the trip.

Make a difference
Since the resumption of the violence in Mogadishu in May 2009, more than a quarter of a million people have fled their homes. Most of them have settled in other areas of Mogadishu or not far from the capital.

For as little as HK$230 you can help displaced Somalis like Hoda by helping her start a business that allows her to provide for her children, and not risk her life crossing the Gulf of Aden.

Donation Hotline: 2388 3278
Donation A/C : HSBC 502-393333-001
Donation by cheque: Please make cheque payable to "UNHCR" and mail to 1/F, Eaton House, 380 Nathan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.