Evacuation of Stranded ETHIOPIAN Migrants from Yemen Will End Unless New Funding Found: IOM
To date, IOM has assisted more than 6,000 Ethiopian migrants to return home from Haradh, a town close to the border used by the migrants as a stepping stone to reach Saudi Arabia. But some 12,000 stranded migrants, mostly from the Horn of Africa, remain.
Living conditions for the migrants in the town are described by IOM transit centre staff on the ground as “terrible” and worsening due to increasing numbers of new arrivals and depleted resources. Tensions are also rising between the migrants and the local community.
Many migrants are reportedly suffering from diarrheal diseases, malaria, respiratory infections and snake bites from sleeping in the open. Others are suffering from broken limbs, gunshot wounds and other signs of maltreatment by human traffickers and smugglers.
Local media in Yemen have also reported an increasing number of attacks against the migrants by human traffickers and smugglers, some of which have been fatal. One newspaper, Al-share, last week printed graphic pictures of migrants with missing body parts – atrocities reportedly perpetrated by trafficking gangs. The same paper carried accounts of kidnapped migrants forced by traffickers to contact their families in the Gulf to extort ransoms.
Local authorities in Haradh are increasingly concerned at the surge in irregular migrants competing for scarce resources and desperately scavenging the streets. The local community sees them as contributing to the mounting instability in the area.
The IOM transit centre, which provides accommodation and limited medical and psychosocial assistance for migrants who wish to return home, is packed to capacity with over 400 residents, including women and children. When it was established in 2010 it was intended to accommodate just 150.
Yemen has long been a destination and transit point for mixed migration flows from the Horn of Africa to the Gulf and beyond. A total of 103,154 new arrivals were registered in 2011, double the number of the previous year. In February alone, approximately 12,454 new arrivals were registered, of whom 10,496 were from Ethiopia