Broken dreams of desperate migrants fleeing Africa for the Arabian Peninsula - in pictures

As attempts to cross the Mediterranean have intensified, and a migrant crisis has erupted on the EU border, another of the world's busiest smuggling routes is quietly swinging back into gear

Ethiopian migrants receive items from an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) centre in the city of Hargeisa, Somaliland. Thousands are trying to leave Africa. Their destination isn't Europe, but the Arabian Peninsula.

This so-called 'Eastern Route' is perilous and sometimes fatal, with migrants crossing scorching deserts, rough seas and active war zones in search of economic opportunity.

People smugglers promised 19-year-old Fentahun Derebe passage to Saudi Arabia. After he reached the coast of Somalia, the smugglers demanded more money and dumped him when he couldn't pay.

Movement along the Eastern Route is picking up again after slowing in 2020, when borders closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018 and 2019 it was the world's busiest maritime migration route.

The route receives little of the attention dedicated to higher-profile migrant crises affecting Europe and North America, said Richard Danziger, IOM chief of mission for Somalia.

"I left for my children," said Woynshat Esheto, a 35-year-old single mother of four, who wanted to go to Saudi Arabia and become a housekeeper, but ran out of money in Hargeisa, Somaliland.

The migrants are driven by poverty and dreams of a better life, happy to go anywhere where there are jobs.

Updated: November 23rd 2021, 11:21 AM