Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen want to return home

More than 60 Ethiopian migrants, including 37 women, who are stranded and detained in war-torn Yemen, are seeking help to be repatriated due to the dire conditions in Yemen, according to local media reports.

The migrants are being held at a detention centre in the Southern province of Taiz following a failed attempt to reach Saudi Arabia.

Abdu Yasin Idris, an Ethiopian migrant said that they have been held at the detention centre since March 2019. They were caught by the Yemeni authorities before they made it to Saudi Arabia. Idris said that he and other migrants are seeking help to return safely to Ethiopia.

Conditions at the migrant detention centres in Yemen are similar to those in Libya.  Migrants have reported that physical and sexual abuse is common. Many migrants have witnessed rape and torture, while others have reported being beaten and denied food.

The Ethiopian government with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and in cooperation with the Yemeni authorities has been facilitating the safe return of hundreds of Ethiopian nationals stranded in Yemen. Between November 2018 and January 2109, more than 700 Ethiopian migrants flew home. IOM has a plan to assist the voluntary return of another 3,000 Ethiopian migrants by the end of 2019.

Despite the ongoing conflict in Yemen, many Ethiopian and Eritrean migrants attempt to reach Yemen due to its close proximity to the Horn of Africa and pathway to Europe. From here, migrants can reach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states or cross back to Sudan and continue over land to Europe. Smugglers offer ‘leave now, pay later’ schemes for vulnerable migrants. Despite the risks, IOM figures show that around 150,000 migrants – 92 percent of which are from Ethiopia and a smaller number from Eritrea- arrived in the country in 2018 alone.

Many migrants continue to risk their lives to reach Yemen.  In February 2018, IOM reported that at least 58 people died after two overcrowded migrant boats heading to Yemen sunk off the coast of Djibouti.

TMP 20/04/2019

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo caption: Many Ethiopian and Eritrean migrants continue to risk their lives to reach Yemen.