Increasing Numbers of Stranded Migrants Dying on Yemeni-Saudi Border
Thirty migrants stranded on Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia have
died in recent weeks according to IOM partners. The latest death on
Tuesday highlights the urgent need to help the growing numbers of
irregular migrants left there in a desperate situation.
Stranded in the border town of Haradh, many of the migrants are
in extremely poor health after having made the extremely long and
perilous journey, mainly from Ethiopia, Somali or Sudan en route to
the Gulf or beyond. An increasing number of them have been deported
from Saudi Arabia and left at Haradh with nothing more than the
clothes they stand in.
With no means of either continuing their journey or returning
home, the migrants are sleeping out in the open, dehydrated
and trying to survive on whatever scraps of food they can find.
Every day between 15-25 migrants are being referred to
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for treatment, mainly
for malaria, TB, typhoid or malnutrition.
IOM and partners including the UN have been working recently to
help a group of 2,000 Ethiopian irregular migrants at Haradh. Since
November 13, IOM has assisted 785 of the migrants to voluntarily
return home after providing medical, shelter and food
By 6 December, the Organization will have assisted 1032 out of
the targeted 2,000 migrants. This includes a group of 154 Ethiopian
women and minors who had been held in Yemeni detention centres.
However, to assist the remaining migrants, IOM is urgently
appealing for USD 1 million.
Although it is not known just how many irregular migrants are
stranded at the Yemeni-Saudi border, it is clear that a bottleneck
is rapidly developing and becoming more acute. Yemen is a major
transit route for migrants and asylum-seekers from the Horn of
Africa en route to the Middle East and beyond. However, Saudi
Arabia has reinforced its border with Yemen in recent months while
simultaneously deporting irregular migrants to the Yemeni
"We are seeing a dramatic increase in migrants needing help.
Over the past week, the number of migrants being referred to IOM
has jumped to about 76 a day. We are now verifying with them that
they do want to go home. If so, we will take them to Sana'a so they
can get travel documents from Ethiopian immigration officials
before taking the plane home," says IOM's operations officer in
Haradh, Bill Lorenz.
Funds from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)
totaling USD 450,000 will allow IOM to provide immediate
life-saving humanitarian assistance to migrants wanting to go home.
Priority is being given to the most vulnerable such as single
women, female-headed families, children, the sick and the mentally
With a local partner, the Charitable Society for Social Welfare
(CSSW), and in coordination with the World Health Organization
(WHO) and MSF, IOM will provide shelter and basic health services
at a departure centre in Haradh. The centre, which can accommodate
200 people, will provide food, water, sanitation and security to
the migrants before they return to Ethiopia. Medical assistance
will also be available 24 hours a day for those who need it. IOM
and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will also work to
help suspected victims of trafficking and register asylum-seekers
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