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Massive returns of Yemeni migrants from Saudi Arabia will impact welfare of thousands back home: IOM

Yemen - Over 190,000 Yemeni migrant workers have crossed the Al Tuwal border checkpoint with Saudi Arabia since June, following a March 2013 decision by Saudi Arabia to send all undocumented migrant workers back to their countries of origin. During the first week of November, the rate of returns increased significantly, reaching a peak of over 7,000 per day.

At the request of the Yemeni government, IOM has been providing emergency assistance to returnees, including health care, water, food, and immediate necessities such as clothing and footwear.

“Given the harsh desert conditions, drinking water is now provided to all returnees who have to walk around one kilometre to the nearest transportation hub,” says Lilian Ambuso, the head of the IOM office in Haradh, a border town close to Al Tuwal. “IOM also plans to provide them with access to telephones so that they can immediately contact their families.”

According to statistics collected by IOM, 75 per cent of the returnees interviewed previously sent remittances home to their families in Yemen of up to USD 200 per month.

“The fact that the families will not receive these remittances anymore will have a major impact on them and the economy of their region. We are looking, here, at approximately USD 5 million lost in remittances for the months of October and November alone. Most of them are returning to areas with high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. The massive loss of income will inevitably exacerbate this situation,” says IOM’s Dr. Teresa Zakaria.

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