IOM Evacuation Operations for Stranded Ethiopians and Somalis from Yemen Resumes

Politics News

“Yemeni authorities are deporting hundreds of Ethiopian and Somali migrants to Djibouti under deplorable conditions.” – IOM

FILE – Ethiopian migrants are seen in a make-shift camp near the western Yemeni town of Haradh in a March 21, 2012, photo. Djiboutian authorities confirm at least 24 migrants have died in recent weeks due to deportation conditions they faced in Yemen.


IOM evacuation operations are resuming in Yemen, after a pause imposed by airstrikes and ground fights in the country.

Reception capacity for the large influx of migrants from Ethiopia and other Horn of Africa countries returning migrants are over-stretched in Djibouti. The resulting insanitary conditions are a cause for concern for the health and safety of the returning migrants.

“What’s happening in the region is a very big concern for us. So far hundreds of migrants have been deported in deplorable conditions,” said Mohammed Abdiker, Director of IOM’s Department of Operations and Emergencies. Abdiker added that so far Djiboutian authorities have confirmed that at least 24 migrants have died due to the conditions of their deportation.

Meanwhile, thousands of Ethiopian migrants remain in need of humanitarian support in Yemen, with several hundred extremely vulnerable and highly exposed to conflict and airstrikes.

Separately, IOM Djibouti, in coordination with IOM Ethiopia and IOM Yemen, assisted with the evacuation of 672 migrants stranded in Hodeida, Yemen. An IOM-chartered boat left Djibouti on November 8 for Yemen and was expected to return late today (11/11), evacuating 150 migrants, including 118 unaccompanied minors and 31 women.

IOM Yemen has confirmed that chartered vessel left Yemen late Thursday. These migrants will be documented in Djibouti by the Ethiopia Embassy and IOM will organize their return to Ethiopia, in coordination with IOM Ethiopia and Air Djibouti.

IOM Djibouti last week also provided assistance to stranded Ethiopian migrants who decided against irregular travel to Yemen and who sought assistance at IOM’s Migration Response Center (MRC) in Obock to voluntarily return to their country of origin. Obock is a coastal town close to the spot where many migrants leave Africa for the Arabian Peninsula.

On 8 November, the MRC received 82 stranded Ethiopian migrants expelled by the Yemeni authorities in Aden. They were dropped by boat in Geherre, close to Khor Angar, which is 30 kilometers from Obock. They included 15 unaccompanied children and eight women, who have now asked IOM to provide them with assisted voluntary return home to Ethiopia.

Through the MRC, IOM meets the migrants’ basic needs, including food and health. It also facilitates their travel by securing documents from the Embassy of Ethiopia in Djibouti, and organizing their return to Addis Ababa, with the support of IOM in Ethiopia. Currently the MRC is assisting 131 migrants, of whom 110 have returned to Ethiopia on Friday.

On 10 November 2016, IOM Yemen organized a new movement of 150 Ethiopian migrants from Al Hodeidah, on the west coast of Yemen, to Ethiopia via Djibouti. The migrants included 108 vulnerable migrants, including 94 unaccompanied minors. Forty-two women, including 11 minors, were assisted to return home by boat, firstly to Djibouti. They will be transferred back home from Djibouti to Ethiopia.

All unaccompanied children receive special assistance, including family tracing, organized jointly by IOM and UNICEF. This movement is the eleventh rotation since the resumption of the evacuations in March 2016, and is part of a joint coordinated approach between IOM in Yemen, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

The majority of these migrants were detained in Al Hodeidah central prison and kept under very bad conditions. Others were stranded in Yemen for more than five months. The migrants were suffering from various diseases caused by the poor hygiene, a lack of sanitation and poor nutrition, due to the crisis situation that Yemen is currently facing.

IOM health teams and health centres have provided direct medical assistance to the most vulnerable migrants. Due to the conflict and severe humanitarian concerns in Yemen, for Yemenis, displaced people and migrants, IOM is planning to increase the evacuation of stranded migrants by boat on a basis of one trip every four days.

This evacuation operation is part of a larger programme which looks at vulnerability of migrants, responding to their most immediate needs when stranded in Yemen, including food, shelter, and most importantly health conditions. The operation is funded by Germany, the UK and the USA.

While IOM has created safe places in the Horn of Africa where migrants can receive care, shelter and counselling, migrants continue to arrive in Yemen every month deceived by false promises by smugglers. IOM is calling on all regional authorities to actively work against smugglers and the false promises that they make to irregular migrants.