Recent reports on human trafficking in Yemen and illegal intrusions on Saudi Arabia territories through its southern border with Yemen is raising much concern in both Riyadh and Sana’a as the issue is fast becoming a matter of national security.
While human traffickers are banking on African refugees’ hope to find solace in rich Saudi Arabia by forcing them to pay extortionate fees for their crossing, often through violence and abuse, criminals and terrorists are also using the human flow to smuggle militants and weapons across the border.
Yemen Human Rights Mashour is now calling for a change in legislation which will address human trafficking and protect the inherent right of all refugees while in Yemen taking into account “all social, economic and security issues.”
However, security sources in Saudi Arabia call for caution as they explained that many of the so-called African refugees happen to have links with al-Shabab, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Horn of Africa.
Earlier this month, officials in Saudi Arabia announced they were working in collaboration with the Yemeni government to curb the illegal immigration trend and rein down on human trafficking and other illegal activities at the borders.
With a border running through 1400 km of mountainous terrain Yemen and Saudi Arabia are facing an uphill battle.
But beyond security issues, rights groups and NGOs are calling for judicial reforms which will better address Yemen human trafficking problem, addressing one facet of illegal immigration at its very root.
Although Yemen’s penal code calls for ten years’ imprisonment for those engaged in buying or selling human beings, little in terms of enforcement was done since 2011 uprising.
The US State Department report stresses the utter lack of government efforts to counter trafficking this year.
Nicoletta Giordano, Head of IOM’s activities in Yemen said “There is a flourishing smuggling and trafficking business. It is an international business … Many Western countries are focused on piracy issues and attention to smuggling and trafficking has fallen by the wayside.
If we were to look at border management in a more holistic way, so that those that require assistance and protection are referred, and those that might pose a threat are dealt with, this would be in the interest of all countries concerned,” she added.
Yemen Post – 25 March 2013 (http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=6715&MainCat=3)