Les Martyrs du Golfe d’Aden

Refugees on a boat

The Gulf of Aden separates the Horn of Africa from the Arabian Peninsula. Due to the desperate conditions, politically and economically, in Somalia and in Ethiopia, thousands of people from that region attempt to cross the Gulf of Aden to search for a better life in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Callous human traffickers exploit the desperate situation of their fellow human being, promising a passage across the sea for $40. They cram more than a hundred people in 30-foot wooden vessels and set out for the three-day passage. For three long, hellish days, these people are without drinking water, food or even room to move. They are seasick, cramped and dehydrated. The “crew” keeps their human “cargo” under control by beating them, and throwing anyone over board who as much as opens his mouth. When they get near the Yemeni shore, the refugees are forced to jump in the water and swim to shore. Most can’t swim and are exhausted and so many of these poor souls drown there, right at the shore.

Thousands have taken this hellish voyage, and in 2005 alone, the UN estimates that 1,700 lost their lives in this horrifying quest for a better destiny.

A courageous Frenchman, the journalist Daniel Grandclément got on one of these boats and filmed the conditions on board, witnessed the beatings and heard the screams in the night. His documentary was aired in April on French television, but it is also available on the web:

Part One – (narration in French) this documents the conditions on the boat. Not for the faint of heart.

Part Two – (narration in French) this is an eerie, night vision film of the arrival of the refugees on the shore of Yemen. A documentary film team filmed this footage, apparently it was pure coincidence that they were there at the time.

Daniel Grandclément was arrested by Yemeni authorities, and held for five days before being released. The Somalis are allowed to stay in Yemen as refugees. The Ethiopians have to find their way through the Arabian Desert to Saudi Arabia.

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