Ismail is 25, and comes from Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Ismail had never left his home town before coming to Yemen. He is one of nearly 9200 mixed migrants of non-Somali origin estimated to have arrived on Yemen’s coast in the first four months of 2010 – more than double the number of new Somali arrivals in the same period. Ismail used to start his day early in the morning working in the fields, and even attended evening school, dreaming of a better future. But inability to pay taxes meant Ismail fled Ethiopia, leaving behind his wife and small twin daughters, seeking the chance to save up money and eventually return to them.
After leaving home, Ismail travelled for 7 days to reach Bossaso, in Puntland where he thought his journey had come to an end. Bossaso is a hub of migration towards Yemen and is a temporary home to thousands of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Like many others there, Ismail hoped to find a job and collect some money, so he was shocked when he found that Ethiopians
living in Bossaso can be subject to discrimination from the Somali host community, including threats, violence and even murder. Once he ran out of money, Ismail’s suffering grew worse. He begged in mosques, but in vain, and received insults instead of the assistance he needed. Eventually, Ismail found work in farming. When he heard that many people immigrate to Yemen from Bossaso, Ismail decided to come to Yemen looking for better conditions.
But like many passengers making the trip by sea to Yemen, Ismail faced abuse. Other passengers urinated on him, and he was severely beaten by the boat’s staff when he complained. In April, only a quarter of estimated new arrivals took a similar route as Ismail, arriving on Yemen’s Arabian Sea Coast from Somalia. The bulk of estimated new arrivals came via Djibouti, arriving on Yemen’s Red Sea Coast. Regardless of the route, the challenges these mixed migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, face on their journeys to Yemen remain disturbing.