I saw a film on France3 2 weeks ago as part of the series about the sea called Thalassa.
The film was a harrowing segment about the refugees fleeing Somalia by trying to go to Yemen in small boats run by human traffikers. The continuing violence and chaos of the war between the Islamic Tribunal Government and the Tribal War Lords supported by the US Government and aided by the Eithiopian army has led to thousands of people risking their lives to take this journey from the Somalian port city of Bosaso to Yemen. They have to pay about 40 dollars US for the journey which they earn by working as slave laborers in the port. The port is controlled by the anti Islamic Tribunal governor with US armed support. The workers live in cardboard shacks and have to pay to even use the latrines.
Perhaps 4,000 people have perished in the attempt to make the crossing. They are stuffed into little boats that should have a crew of 10 normally. 130 is the average number. People have to sit in a cramped position wiitthout moving for up to 3 days with no food or water subjected to beatings and sadistic abuse by the capos who enforce order through raw fear. People are thrown over board to inspire fear in others.
Entire boat loads of people have been murdered by the traffickers who just go off with the money they collect.
The UN tries in vain to persuade people not to make the trip and even offers trips back to their villages and payments as bribes. For most of these people there is no turning back, the reality they left can't be any better than the reality they look forward to.
Warships from 13 countries patrol these waters including the US Coast Guard and they seem to look the other way most of the time when they see these boats. When the boats think they are going to be stopped and searched, they throw their human cargo overboard.
This misery was documented by a courageous French journalist, Daniel Grandclement. He managed to make a connection with the smugglers and offered them $400 if they would take him and let him film. He was stuffed onto a boat along with 128 others and beaten, threatened with drowning and suffered for 3 days with the rest. Miraculously, he was allowed to take a precious few hours of video tape and managed to document his experience. While on board, he is beaten and the rest of his money is stolen.
The misery on board is relentless. The capos are sadistic and crazed. People are pointlessly beaten. Luckily, on this trip, no one is thrown over board.
After 3 days, the entire group is tied together and made to jump inot the sea off the coast of Yemen. Grandclement manages to wrap his camera in a plastic bag and somehow gets separated from the group. On the shore there is a lucky strok as two women who are documentary journalists have been camping on the beach and filming the refugees for a film they are making. They manage to film the people struggling out of the waves and it is eerily filmed with night vision cameras. The group is taken to Sanaa, the Yemeni Capital. Daniel is found by a Yemeni military patrol and taken to a prison. Some how he manages to get in contact with the French Embassy and is released and finishes his documentary after meeting the women reporters. The film ends with a group of refugees who are made to leave Sanaa and walk into the desert with nothing. There is no way to know how their story ends........
This is an amazingly bleak documentary called Les Martyrs du Golfe d'Aden. It is in French, but this story has to be told. Over a thousand people are murderd a month and with the present out and out war in Mogadicio, the number of refugees have risen dramatically. The link will take you to a web site with a short excerpt from the film.
We were able to obtain a DVD from France3 and it is being sent to friends at the UN in New York. It has been shown in Geneva, but the situation has to be reported to the rest of the world.