IOM Airlifts Stranded Ethiopians as RMMC Meets in Djibouti

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iom2Press Briefing Notes

Spokesperson: Chris Lom

1. IOM Airlifts 915 Stranded Ethiopian Migrants from Yemen, But Thousands Remain

2. Regional Mixed Migration Committee for Horn of Africa and Yemen Meets in Djibouti

IOM Airlifts 915 Stranded Ethiopian Migrants from Yemen, But Thousands Remain – An IOM-charter flight carrying 275 stranded Ethiopian migrants from Yemen to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa will leave Al-Hodeida airport on Tuesday (25/9/12.)

The flight, which was funded by a USD 2.1 donation from the Netherlands, follows two other Dutch-funded charters on Tuesday and Wednesday (18 & 19/9) of this week carrying another 551 migrants. A third charter, carrying 89 medical cases and victims of trafficking, funded by the USA, left Yemen earlier this month.

The returnees represent less than a quarter of some 4,000 near destitute Ethiopians currently living in the open in and around Yemen’s northwestern town of Haradh. All of them became stranded there after trying and failing to cross into Saudi Arabia in search of jobs.

IOM’s limited funding means that the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly and unaccompanied minors, are given priority on the flights back to Ethiopia.

IOM has a migrant response centre in Haradh designed to house up to 150 people. It is currently providing shelter to some 350 of mostly sick and infirm migrants.

The vast majority of the migrants leave poverty-stricken lives in Ethiopia in search of jobs in the Gulf. They embark on a dangerous journey through the Horn of Africa, across the Gulf of Aden and through conflict-ridden Yemen, with the help of smuggling networks.

Those lucky enough to survive the journey often find themselves stranded and destitute at the Saudi Arabian border, unable to progress further. The most vulnerable, including women and unaccompanied minors, live at risk of kidnap, exploitation and assault by smugglers and criminal gangs.

IOM medical staff at the border also report widespread health problems caused by lack of food, poor sanitation and sleeping in the open. Casualties arising from gunshots and landmines are also rising.

Since 2010 IOM has provided urgent medical assistance to over 35,031 Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen, and has helped over 9,000 of them to return home from Yemen.

But demand for urgent return assistance far outstrips the number of flights that IOM can provide. IOM Haradh staff say that at any given time there are up to 1,000 migrants asking for help to return to Ethiopia.

Meanwhile, the number of irregular migrants from the Horn of Africa arriving in Yemen continues to rise. According to UNHCR, 63,800 Ethiopians and Somalis arrived in Yemen by sea in the first seven months of this year, up from 48,700 in 2011. The proportion of Ethiopian migrants also rose. In 2011, a total of 103,000 Ethiopian and Somalis arrived, up from 53,000 recorded in 2010.

For further information, please contact Dr Teresa Zakaria at IOM Yemen, Email: tzakaria@iom.int or Lilian Ambuso, Email: lambuso@iom.int

2- Regional Mixed Migration Committee for Horn of Africa and Yemen Meets in Djibouti – The Regional Committee on Mixed Migration for the Horn of Africa and Yemen will hold its second meeting in Djibouti on 23- 24 September 2012.

The meeting, which will be hosted by Djibouti and organized by IOM, follows an earlier event held in Addis Ababa in December 2011 and will include member government delegations from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somaliland, Puntland and Yemen.

Egypt, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia will also attend as observer states, together with representatives from the donor community, IGAD, the AU, UNHCR and NGOs.

The meeting aims to improve collaboration between governments in the Horn of Africa and Yemen, and their international partners, to improve the condition of migrants, save lives and more effectively manage migration in the region.

Participants will review progress on 2011 recommendations relating to rescue at sea, smuggling and trafficking, and the role of Migration Response Centers (MRCs) operating in the region. They will also assess the situation of migrant health and examine ways to extend medical services to migrants.

The Horn of Africa has unique migration challenges. Every month thousands of irregular migrants and asylum seekers attempt to cross borders to escape conflict, drought and economic difficulties. In the process, many regularly perish or disappear.

In the first seven months of 2012, 63,800 migrants arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa – a 30% increase from the same period in 2011. If the trend continues, 2012 may be the highest number of migrant arrivals yet recorded.

Migrants make the journey from their places of origin in the Horn of Africa through Puntland and Somaliland to Djibouti and across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen and the Gulf States.

For more information please contact Craig Murphy at IOM Nairobi, Email: cmurphy@iom.int,

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