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Kenya joins UN-backed ministerial body to fight illicit migration

Kenya has joined a regional ministerial body dealing with the illegal migration to Europe through sea routes in the Horn of Africa region, According to a UN statement.

Kenya joined the Regional Mixed Migration Committee, a ministerial panel established by countries in the Horn of Africa region, to help combat illicit migration, a UN report released here Wednesday said.

The committee comprises Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Puntland and Yemen, the main axis for most of the 24,000 illegal immigrants who reached Italy by sea in 2012.

Figures for the past six months of 2013, showed only 13,613 people had crossed the Italian Island of Lampedusa, most of them Eritrean and Somali workers.

A majority of those workers escaped using vessels such as Royce One, the fishing vessel that left Mombasa for a fishing voyage to Djibouti.

The vessel failed after developing a "bridge pump" failure. This meant the ship was unable to drain seawater automatically.

The Horn of Africa sea routes has become the graveyard for thousands of unlucky fortune hunters wishing to enter Europe.

"There are factors which make these people to move," said Ashraf El Nour, the regional director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

"They lose their lives, they face atrocities and become slaves of human trafficking cartels."

"The protection of migrant workers is one of our priorities. We are working with the governments of the region by assisting the youth with pre-departure preparations," El Nour said.

Kenya's joining of the regional mixed migration Committee is critical because of the country's more advanced international transport links.

Kenya will host the next ministerial meeting of the group, the third such meeting since the founding of the group in 2011 at a meeting in Djibouti.

"These ministers meet on bilateral issues about how to address smuggling and trafficking of people," El Nour added.

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