At least eight African migrants have died in a makeshift camp in war-torn Yemen, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
All eight migrants were reported to have died from complications related to acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) at the Ibn Khaldoon Hospital in Lahj governorate on 1 May 2019. They were mostly Ethiopian.
“I am deeply saddened by the deaths of these eight migrants, who were among the thousands of migrants being held in deplorable conditions across Yemen. We have decried this policy to the authorities, urging them to take a humane approach to irregular migration,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s Director of Operations and Emergencies.
Despite four years of war in Yemen, thousands from the Horn of Africa continue to make the irregular migration journey each year through Djibouti and Yemen with the goal of arriving in the Gulf countries.
According to the UN, almost 150,000 migrants arrived in Yemen in 2018. Overstretched and under resourced, Yemeni authorities struggle to cope with tens of thousands of Horn of Africa migrants who are stranded in the country. In January, the UN said it plans to airlift 3,000 Ethiopian migrants back to Addis Ababa. Hundreds have since been returned.
Some stranded migrants in Yemen have been detained by authorities in areas with poor living conditions. Prior to their death, the eight migrants were held at a military camp in Lahj governorate in southwest Yemen, along with more than 1,400 others. Authorities at the camp reported that they have detected at least 200 AWD cases.
Overall, IOM reports that there are around 5,000 migrants from the Horn of Africa held across two sports stadiums and a military camp in Yemen’s Aden, Lahj and Abyan governorates.
IOM said in a statement: “Neither open-air stadium is designed to accommodate large numbers people. [H]olding thousands there will inevitably create a substantial sanitation problem, risking the spread of disease amongst detainees.”