Sixty-three stranded Ethiopian migrants assisted to return home

Ethiopian migrants who were stranded in Somaliland since early July have been assisted to return home by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The 63 migrants, aged 15 to 48, were crossing the Red Sea to reach Saudi Arabia via Yemen. They were stranded for six days due to an engine failure on their boat, until a merchant ship rescued them. Rescuers reported two deaths among the exhausted migrants, who were out of water and food supplies.

The IOM sub-office in Hargeisa says it has been providing the returnees with medical services, shelter, food, clothing and counseling during their stay in Somaliland.

“These migrants took a new route, and when they drifted off course they ended up in the middle of the Gulf of Aden – a desperate place for a small boat without provisions. We are very happy that they were rescued, and we were able to support them through our Assisted Voluntary Return service. We know that our colleagues at IOM Ethiopia will receive them at Bole airport in Addis Ababa and see to it that they return safely to their families,” said Jessamy Garver-Affeldt, Head of IOM’s sub-office in Hargeisa.

One of the returnees, 22-year-old Semhar, said the experience has shocked her. “I was just waiting for death. I am happy to be alive now and my family is happy that I am alive. Now, I just want to go back to Ethiopia,” she said.

Ethiopia is a major point of origin and transit for irregular migration. Many Ethiopians who choose to irregularly migrate head towards the Middle East in search of economic opportunities. According to the Danish Refugee Council’s Mixed Migration Platform, nearly 90% of all irregular migrants arriving in Yemen in 2015 were from Ethiopia.

Those who voluntarily return home are eligible for support from IOM, through funding from the EU-Trust Fund for Africa. The support includes reintegration into communities, and establishment of livelihoods. Nearly 1,200 Ethiopian returnees have been provided with such assistance since mid-2017.

Ethiopia is also part of the EU-IOM joint initiative, an initiative partnering the EU through IOM, with 26 African countries in facilitating safe migration management for returned migrants by establishing development-focused policies and processes.

TMP – 10/09/18

Photo credit: IOM. Photo caption: Ethiopian migrants heading back home from Hargeisa, Somaliland.

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