So while trolling through some other news, I cam across some discussion between the Yemeni government and the UNHCR- I am not sure but it is possibly in the same venue as the hideous clownshow that is Durban II. That's outside the scope of this blog to discuss, though, and I think you can all be grateful for that. Anyway. The talk centered around the UN doing more to help Yemen deal with its Somali refugee problem. I'll do my normal thing on the blog and shluff human rights concerns to the side in order to deal with why it is a political problem.
1) At the most basic level, the bottom of Maslow, is that Yemen can barely afford to feed its own people, much less desperate refugees from the world's most shattered state. (If you haven't been following it that closely- and I am sure you have- here's a briefer from the week's Economist, which is typically concise. Then do your own research. If you care about Yemen, you care about Somalia) They are a further drain on a stumbling economy. Of course, being fellow human beings, and Muslims beside, it has proven politically difficult for the government to ignore them. So they put another bind on Saleh's government.
2) Security (compounded by the effects #1 has on security). The flood of refugees makes it difficult to tell who is an actual refugee and who might be a Shabab or another Islamic militant, either looking to join up with AQ or cause trouble of their own. It isn't likely, as it is fairly tough for Somalis to blend in, but it isn't impossible either. Foreign refugee camps are a great place for militants- Islamist or otherwise- to lay low and get strong. The Yemen/Somali example isn't as extreme as this, but one only has to look at how Hutu Power regained strength in the misery of Goma to see the pitfalls of these camps.
Yemen's two major issues- ok, two of Yemen's major issues- are security and the crumbling economy. Somali refugees exacerbate both of those issues, and, as we have said before, Yemen can't afford it. No one thinks that the problem will be solved without first fixing Somalia- and, hey, good luck with that- but any outside help that can be given would be appreciated. Somalia, with its failed state, rampant militancy, private militias, tribal wars, and marauding Islamic warriors, is Yemen's terrifying nightmare- the future it is trying to avoid. It would be nice if the world community, which has had no solutions for that wretched land in the Horn of Africa, would help not allow Somalia to create its duplicate.