Ethiopian Survivors of Somalia Boat Tragedy Return Home

Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, Missing Migrants

Somalia - In early January a migrant boat left the northern coast of Somalia bound for Yemen. It carried 106 Ethiopian and Somali migrants who had trekked across large swathes of remote land on foot and by truck to reach the point of embarkation.

The boat was part of the large-scale smuggling business that facilitates the irregular migration of thousands of migrants to Yemen from the Horn of Africa each year. Over 90,000 migrants arrived in Yemen in 2015, and almost 90 per cent of them were from Ethiopia.

Soon after it left the shore, the boat developed mechanical problems and was unable to make the 10-hour crossing to Yemen. It drifted at sea for a week, before capsizing in rough seas off the coast of Somaliland, the autonomous region of northern Somalia.

Thirty-six migrants drowned on 8 January 2016 (IOM Press Note of 12 January 2016), adding to the total of 95 others known to have died in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in 2015.

IOM’s office in Hargeisa, Somaliland, worked closely with government authorities to assist the survivors with emergency assistance, medical care and transportation. They were transferred by road to Berbera, and then to Hargeisa where they were accommodated at the Ethiopian Community Center.

On January 26th, 64 of the survivors opted to return home to Ethiopia with IOM’s Assisted Voluntary Return programme.  They travelled by road back to Jijiga, Ethiopia and then on to their final destinations.

Hassan, 28, told IOM: “I am going back to Ethiopia to look for work and to see my family and five children. I will tell everyone not to try irregular migration to the Gulf.”

The operation was funded by the US State Department’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

For further information please contact Craig Murphy at IOM Somalia, Email:, Tel. +254.717 71 1822.

IOM helps survivors of the boat tragedy in Somalia last 8 January return home to Ethiopia. © IOM/Craig Murphy 2016