GENEVA, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The situation for newly-arrived refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Yemen has further worsened and is extremely concerning, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said Tuesday.
"Unabated conflict, deteriorating economic conditions and now increasing criminality are exposing people to harm and exploitation," UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler said at a UN media briefing here.
The prolonged conflict and insecurity is threatening State institutions and weakening the rule of law, and there are growing accounts of extortion, trafficking and deportation, said UNHCR.
Many are arrested, detained, abused, and then pushed out to sea or forcibly returned by the very same smugglers who brought them to Yemen.
"Reports of abuse inside detention facilities are numerous, with some new arrivals being subject to physical and sexual violence," said Spindler.
With deportations, UNHCR has received reports of people being forced by smugglers on to boats off the Yemeni shoreline.
In January this year, more than 60 Somalis were reported to have drowned during one of these operations.
"For those who are pushed back across the Gulf of Aden, many fall prey once again to smugglers and traffickers who lure them into re-attempting the journey."
Separately, the UN children's fund (UNICEF) said Yemen continues to be one of the world's most water-scarce countries.
"Access to drinking water is extremely costly for the most vulnerable people: 8.6 million children in Yemen don't have sufficient access to water, sanitation and hygiene services," said UNICEF in a statement.
Since 2015, the escalation of the conflict in Yemen has exacerbated this already dire situation, with attacks and military action on and around water infrastructure cutting off even more people from access to safe drinking water, according to UNICEF.