The International Organization for Migration is using community-based
institutions and religious leaders in Ethiopia to educate rural and
urban communities about the dangers of irregular migration. The IOM
campaign hopes to dissuade potential migrants from using smugglers
networks to make the risky voyage across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen.
Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from IOM headquarters in Geneva.
Chauzy, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration,
says some 1,400 irregular migrants, mainly Ethiopians and Somalis, lost
their lives last year trying to migrate to Yemen. He says most died in
un-seaworthy smugglers boats that went down in the Gulf of Aden.
IOM reports the majority of Ethiopians using smugglers are from rural
areas. They are often unaware of the perils and misery of the journey
to Bossasso in Somalia's Puntland, the main departure point for Yemen
and beyond. Chauzy says the IOM has tried to educate people about the
dangers, but that more must be done.
"So, the information
campaigns that we have had in the past have been fairly successful, but
we feel that working with community-based organizations, with
faith-based organizations will also be crucial to getting the message
across... to those who consider risking their lives, spending their
savings on smugglers networks," explained Chauzy.
describes horrific tales of smugglers physically and verbally abusing
their human cargo. He says Ethiopian passengers are often robbed and
at times abandoned in the Somali desert with no money, papers, food or
water. Women and young girls frequently are raped.
un-seaworthy vessels are used to cross the Gulf of Aden and many
Somalis and Ethiopians have drowned after being thrown overboard by the
Nevertheless, he tells VOA Ethiopians who are fleeing abject poverty are willing to take the risks.
is also this myth that if you make it to Yemen or if you make it to the
Gulf countries, you have chances of sending money back to the family,
of helping the family that has stayed back home. So, people will
follow a dream. They will take huge risks," he said. "Now, there is
obviously a much darker side to this. Because, for instance, many
women and girls who have made it to Yemen, who have made it to the Gulf
countries find themselves in trafficking networks. In other words,
they are exploited mostly for labor."
Chauzy says the
community-based campaign aims to find local solutions to address the
problem of irregular migration in addition to raising awareness of its
dangers. He says one of the approaches is to try to interest
Ethiopians abroad to contribute money for development projects back
If people can find a way to make a living at home, he
says they will not be tempted to go elsewhere in search of a better