Yemen – An IOM-charter flight carrying 210 stranded Ethiopian migrants from Yemen to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa left Al-Hodeida airport yesterday (11/12/12).
The flight, which was funded by a USD 2.1 million donation from the Netherlands, brings to more than 9,500 the number of destitute Ethiopian migrants helped by IOM to leave Yemen since 2010.
IOM’s emergency voluntary return programme for stranded migrants in Yemen has now received new backing from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
“Switzerland’s USD 250,000 donation will help IOM provide voluntary return assistance to the most vulnerable migrants living in desperate conditions in and around Yemen’s northwestern town of Haradh,” says Nicoletta Giordano, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Yemen.
“They include increasing numbers of single women, unaccompanied minors and elderly and sick migrants who are desperate for a way out of what has become a horrendous situation on the Yemeni side of the Saudi Arabian border.”
IOM staff in Haradh report that the town’s morgue has now exceeded its capacity with bodies of migrants who have been murdered or have died of sickness and exhaustion.
Many more thousands, who travelled to the border in the hope of crossing into Saudi Arabia in search of jobs, are currently at risk of kidnap, exploitation and assault by unscrupulous smugglers and criminal gangs.
IOM’s migrant response centre in Haradh, designed to house up to 150 people, is currently providing shelter to more than 350 mostly sick migrants.
IOM medical staff at the border also report widespread health problems caused by lack of food, poor sanitation and sleeping in the open. Casualties from gunshots and landmines are also rising.
Since 2010 IOM has provided urgent medical assistance to over 35,031 Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen.
According to UNHCR, new arrivals in Yemen by sea totalled more than 90,500 for the first ten months of this year. They were mostly Ethiopians (70,659) and Somalis (19,809). In 2011, a total of 103,154 Ethiopians and Somalis arrived in Yemen, up from 53,000 recorded in 2010.
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