Migrants, Refugees Land at an African Way Station

OBOCK, Djibouti—Nestled on a stretch of coastline where Africa’s Horn faces the Arabian peninsula, this dusty seaside town has earned a dubious distinction over the past year, becoming one of the few places where refugees fleeing war pass economic migrants speeding the opposite direction—straight into the firefight. By day, ships carrying scores of Yemeni refugees from conflict between Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed government dock at Obock’s small port. After dark, African migrants pile int

Failed Migrant's Journey to Europe Echoes in Africa

MOGADISHU, Somalia—Mustaf Hussein Abukar wanted a better life for his younger brother, in Europe. Instead, he got an encounter with a human-smuggling racket that nearly bankrupted his family, a common story in this East African nation and across the continent. Two years ago, Mustaf Abukar sold his father's farm to help pay his brother's smugglers in the hope his sibling might prosper in Europe. But German security forces caught the...

US ambassador urged restraint on Afghan visas

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmad Taki is desperate to get out of Afghanistan, fearing for his life after receiving death threats in midnight phone calls because he works for the Americans. Nine months after applying for a visa to the U.S. designed for cases like his, he's heard nothing and feels abandoned by the people for whom he's risked his life. Taki is one of about 2,300 Afghans who have applied to a special program that awards U.S. visas to Afghans who have worked for the U.S. government for at

Fishing town's mothers unite to fight migration

THIAROYE, Senegal — At a funeral in this Senegalese fishing town, mothers wept for their sons — dozens of whom drowned when the wooden craft they hoped to take to Europe was caught in a storm. Then the mothers decided to stop it from happening again. The group from that March funeral has grown to 357 women — all having lost a son, husband or cousin who set out on a perilous voyage hoping for a better life. Yayi Bayam Diouf, who lost her only son, is the head of Thiaroye's women's association.

African Migrants Struggle With Split Lives

KEBEMER, Senegal -- Maimouna Niang lives pretty well for a young mother in a dusty corner of West Africa. Although her house sits on a dirt road and a sheep pen occupies half her yard, she also has a DVD player, a phone line in her house and an elegant wooden crib for her 1-year-old son. What's missing, she says, is her husband, Cheikh Dia, who has just returned to Italy and won't be back for a year. For much of the year, many of the able-bodied men of this town in northern Senegal live in Europe, where they work in factories or sell watches and knickknacks on the street. They spend part of their earnings on food and rent, then wire the rest to families back home.

Africans risk lives in small fishing boats bound for Spain; those who fail once try again

NOUADHIBOU, Mauritania -- Facime Diarra journeyed hundreds of miles from his native Guinea to this West African port and boarded a wooden fishing boat bound for Spain, dreaming of making enough money to buy a tractor for his family back home. He lost everything except his life when the boat sank and about 30 of its 45 passengers drowned. Yet now he's looking for another boat, and is odd-jobbing around town to earn the fare. "I'll go again," the 18-year-old said, though this time in a convoy of boats for safety.

Searching for their Western dream, Indians stranded in the Sahara

ZOUERAT, Mauritania -- There are no roads to this Sahara Desert town, just tracks in the sand. Yet it has become a holding tank for victims of people-smugglers – Asians who set out to find a better life in Europe and ended up dumped in the desert. Dozens of Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis have turned up in Zouerat over the past 18 months, having been abandoned by the smugglers in the Sahara with little water, no food and no passports. No one knows how many others have died in the empty des