IOM Resumes the Repatriation of Stranded Ethiopian Migrants from Yemen

IOM resumes the voluntary return assistance to stranded Ethiopian migrants from Yemen in coordination with the Governments of Ethiopia, Yemen and IOM mission in Yemen.  In three IOM-chartered flights, which have departed from Yemen’s al-Hodeida International Airport on Saturday (28/7), Tuesday (31/7), and Thursday (2/8) for Addis Ababa, a total of 824 stranded Ethiopian migrants, of which 110 are unaccompanied minors, arrived home safely.

The migrants were stranded in the north western Yemeni city of Haradh, near the border with Saudi Arabia. The town is a stepping stone for migrants from the Horn of Africa en route to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in search of work.

Unable to cross the border, due to tight Saudi border controls, thousands of migrants become stranded there. Many suffer extreme hardships including hunger, a lack of shelter and abuse from criminal gangs.

Ethiopian consular officials and Yemeni immigration staff in Harradh have been issuing emergency travel documents and exit permits for the returnees. The returnees have also been provided with Pre-departure health checks, clothing, and hygiene kits. 

Those with medical cases and extremely vulnerable migrants including women, children were given priority on the flights. On arrival in Ethiopia, the migrants were met by Officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IOM Ethiopia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Ambassador Dina Mufti, noted that the return assistance of IOM to these stranded migrants-some with serious medical conditions- is well commended.  After arrival in Addis Ababa, IOM will also provide onward transportation to take them to their final destinations.

In 2011 IOM’s voluntary return programme in Haradh helped 7,000 mainly Ethiopian migrants to return home. It was suspended earlier this year due to lack of funding.

But a recent US$ 2.1 million donation by the Dutch government for IOM humanitarian activities inYemen will now allow another 1,800 destitute migrants to return home to their countries of origin.

IOM’s Haradh Migration Response Centre was set up in 2010 to help the most vulnerable migrants.  The centre, which was designed to accommodate 150 people, now housed 300.