Human trafficking activity is so widespread in Yemen that it jeopardizes the nation's security, said the nation's minister of human rights, according to The Yemen Post.
Horiya Mashhour called on lawmakers to advance legislation protecting victims and curbing trafficking activity on Sunday, reported the Yemen Post.
Yemen has become a key link for traffickers funneling victims from Africa into Saudi Arabia, according to a Sunday report from Arab News, saying the two nations struggle to maintain security and crack down on lawlessness along their shared thousand-mile border.
Some traffickers blatantly violate human rights by forcing their African victims to walk to Saudi Arabia on foot, said Arab News.
Rights groups in Yemen are demanding that the judiciary address legal measures to combat trafficking and provide legal protection to the illegal immigrants that are often victimized, reported the Yemen Post.
"There is a flourishing smuggling and trafficking business. It is an international business," Nicoletta Giordano of Yemen's International Organization of Migration told the Yemen Post.
"Many Western countries are focused on piracy issues and attention to smuggling and trafficking has fallen by the wayside," she later said, according to the report. "If we were to look at border management in a more holistic way, so that those that require assistance and protection are referred, and those that might pose a threat are dealt with, this would be in the interest of all countries concerned."
Edward Leposky of the United Nations Refugee Agency told Al Jazeera in January that Yemen has seen a "significant increase in smuggling and trafficking, and of reported cases of violence and abuse perpetrated against new arrivals" from 2011-2012.
The UN agency said 103,000 refugees arrived in Yemen that year, marking what Al Jazeera said was "the largest influx they have seen since they started documenting statistics six years ago."
Documented activity of highly organized trafficking rings in the region reveals the targeting of refugees, particularly female refugees, said Al Jazeera.