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UNHCR Praises Yemen For Protecting Fleeing Somalis

UN refugee agency praises Yemen for protecting people fleeing Somalia

19 May 2008 - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres today praised Yemen for providing protection to people making the dangerous Gulf of Aden crossing from Somalia, and called for more international support so the country can assist the refugees.

"The Yemeni Government has shown leadership in responding to the protection needs of individuals in the migratory movement," Mr. Guterres said in an address at the opening of a two-day regional conference on the issue in the Yemeni capital Sana'a.

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.

Yemen, despite meagre resources, has maintained an open-door policy to refugees, but it has been calling for more support from the international community, a call which Mr. Guterres echoed.

"While the Government continues to scale up to meet the challenge, it will not be able to do so alone," he said. "I strongly appeal to all countries that have the capacity and resources to do so in the region and beyond, to fully support Yemen in its generous hospitality to many refugees from Somalia during more than 15 years."

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.

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.

Its main objective is to establish a regional mechanism and a longer-term plan of action on refugee protection and mixed migration in the Gulf of Aden region.

ENDS

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