Another 222 stranded Ethiopian migrants in Yemen have been airlifted from Sana’a to Addis Ababa on 6-11 May 2019, said the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The migrants returned to Ethiopia on board four separate flights. The migrants were “unable to continue to support themselves or fund their travel home”, according to IOM, finding themselves stranded in war torn Yemen. These are the first to return from Sana’a since mid-March 2019.
Voluntary return flights were suspended in 2015 when the Yemen conflict started, and resumed in November 2018. During the period of suspension, UN agencies used boats to return vulnerable Ethiopian migrants via Djibouti. Since the start of this year, 733 Ethiopian migrants have returned home voluntarily. The UN said in January that it would repatriate around 3,000 migrants this year.
Despite ongoing conflict in Yemen, migrants seeking economic opportunities in Gulf countries continue to make the journey by land and sea to the Arabian Peninsula. Migrants caught in the crossfire have been rounded up and placed in makeshift detention centres. IOM reports had previously revealed that migrants have been shot at or are dying due to inhumane treatment in detention. Held in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, at least eight migrants have died from acute watery diarrhoea. Overall, 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.
Migrants also face other risks along the way. Some have been killed as a result of accidents at sea. “All along the route, migrants face many challenges in accessing protection and assistance. IOM is committed to supporting Yemen and the region in managing migration in a sustainable and humane way,” IOM said in a statement. According to the UN, almost 150,000 migrants arrived in Yemen in 2018.