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3 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Migrants endure rape, torture on route thru Yemen

AP, Ras Al-Ara, Yemen

Zahra struggled in the blue waters of the Gulf of Aden, grasping for the hands of fellow migrants. Hundreds of men, women and teenagers clambered out of a boat and through the surf, emerging, exhausted, on the shores of Yemen.

The 20-year-old Ethiopian saw men armed with automatic rifles waiting for them on the beach and she clenched in terror. She had heard migrants’ stories of brutal traffickers, lurking like monsters in a nightmare. They are known by the Arabic nickname Abdul-Qawi — which means Worshipper of the Strong. “What will they do to us?” Zahra thought.

This story is part of an occasional series, “Outsourcing Migrants,” produced with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. She and 300 other Africans had just endured six hours crammed in a wooden smuggling boat to cross the narrow strait between the Red Sea and the gulf. When they landed, the traffickers loaded them into trucks and drove them to ramshackle compounds in the desert outside the coastal village of Ras al-Ara.

There was Zahra’s answer. She was imprisoned for a month in a tin-roofed hut, broiling and hungry, ordered to call home each day to beseech her family to wire $2,000. She said she did not have family to ask for money and pleaded for her freedom. Instead, her captors raped her. And they raped the 20 other women with her — for weeks, different men all the time.

“They used each of the girls,” she told AP. “Every night there was rape.” With its systematic torture, Ras al-Ara is a particular hell on the arduous, 900-mile journey from the Horn of Africa to oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Migrants leave home on sandaled feet with dreams of escaping poverty. They trek through mountains and deserts, sandstorms and 113-degree temperatures, surviving on crumbs of bread and salty water from ancient wells.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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