– As the dangers for migrants in Yemen increase amid the conflict and the COVID-19 crisis, nearly 5,000 Ethiopians stranded in Yemen are waiting for their chance to return home safely.
This week About 300 migrants are to fly on two flights of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for voluntary humanitarian return (VHR) from Aden to Addis Ababa. The organization hopes to continue at this pace with two flights a week through the end of the year and plans to expand VHR to other locations such as Ma’rib, where the conflict continues.
“Since the pandemic began, migrants have been in the Yemen pushed
even further in the shadows, ”said John McCue, Deputy IOM Yemen
Head of Mission.
In 2021, 597 migrants have voluntarily returned on five flights from Aden and 79 more on one flight from Sanaa. A flight from Aden is scheduled to land in Addis Ababa on September 7th, with another scheduled for today – a promising sign of progress in securing more opportunities for stranded migrants to voluntarily return in the future.
To sustain this program, the IOM urgently needs $ 3 million from the international community, as well as continued support from the Yemeni and Ethiopian authorities to facilitate the movements.
“We are calling on donors to be more significant To make contributions to it
crucial lifeline that thousands of stranded migrants are using
their only chance to escape a dangerous situation and find their way
home, ”said McCue.
An estimated 32,000 migrants are stranded in dire conditions in the country – mostly in urban transport hubs.
These restrictions have led to smuggling networks on this route
are no longer as lucrative as they used to be. To make up for financial losses,
some use alternative ways to exploit migrants and
Some migrants are forced to work off their debts on farms, while others face gender-based violence (GBV) and ransom kidnapping. The vast majority have no access to water, food, sanitation and health care.
Many migrants are increasingly desperate to return home. Since May 2020, an estimated 18,200 have made the dangerous return journey by sea to Djibouti or Somalia in Yemen, using the same smuggling network that they used to travel to the Arabian Peninsula. Dozens of migrants drowned this year after overcrowded boats overturned.
“I was beaten, imprisoned and exploited in Yemen,” said Tigist *, a 24-year-old Ethiopian who traveled home last week . I was hungry most nights. After everything that has happened to me, I am happy to return home and to my family. ”
Of those who traveled home on VHR flights this year, 20 are under the age of 18. More than 10 percent of newcomers to Yemen are unaccompanied minors. The so-called Eastern Corridor has one of the highest proportions of children in the world who use an irregular migration route. In addition to organizing the flights, IOM offers migrants advice before their departure, helps them to obtain travel documents and is in contact with authorities in Yemen and Ethiopia to ensure safe transit and transit.
In Returning migrants to Ethiopia will be temporarily housed in the IOM transit center, where they will be provided with groceries, essential non-food items, counseling services and a flat rate transportation fee to their final destinations. The organization also organizes medical and psychological care as well as family search and family reunification for unaccompanied migrant children.
“Facilitating the safe voluntary return of migrants from Yemen remains an extremely important program and should be accompanied by permanent solutions to irregular migration “, Said Malambo Moonga, Head of the Migration Management Unit of IOM Ethiopia.
” We continue to appeal for investments in sustainable reintegration
of returnees and building resilience in Ethiopian communities with high
Rates of irregular migration. ”
VHR operations from Yemen in 2021 were supported by the United States government through the Regional Migrant Operational Plan and the German government. IOM