By Maad al-Zikry, Maggie Michael, and Ahmed al-Haj
28 January 2017
ADEN, Yemen (Associated Press) – After reaching Yemen's shores in a packed migrant boat, the young Ethiopian coffee farmer was plunged into a living hell. The smugglers wanted thousands of dollars in ransom from the migrants, and they used him as an example of what would happen if they didn't pay.
Each day for a month, they inflicted new tortures on him, Omar Farrag told The Associated Press. They put him in a tank of water and lit a fire underneath it. They wrapped his limbs with tight barbed wire. At times, they heated the barbed wire.
Finally, his younger brother came from Ethiopia with $2,000 in ransom money. The smugglers decided they could squeeze more money out of him too, so they tortured his brother and ended up killing him, Farrag said.
Now in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, the 26-year-old is overcome with guilt over his brother's death. "I got my brother killed; I am a disgrace. But it's impossible to imagine what I went through," Farrag said. "I don't even know where they buried him."
Migrants from the Horn of Africa are flowing into Yemen at ever growing rates despite the nearly 2-year-old civil war that has thrown the country into its own humanitarian crisis of hunger and displacement. The migrants — many, like Farrag, fleeing drought or poverty back home — are hoping to cross Yemen and reach neighboring oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of international agencies that monitors migration in the area. [more]