Dozens of Ethiopian migrants repatriated from Yemen: IOM

Dozens of Ethiopian migrants repatriated from Yemen in fresh anti-trafficking push
2 min read
04 August, 2021
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has carried out its first Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) flight from Yemen's Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, since 2019.
Despite Yemen's ongoing war, migrants continue to travel there in search of employment [Getty] 

Dozens of Ethiopian migrants, including 19 women and 14 children, were repatriated from Yemen on Tuesday, according to a United Nations agency.

Following efforts by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Ethiopian government, and the Houthi rebel authority in Sanaa, 79 Ethiopians flew home this week after being stranded in Yemen.

The flight marked the IOM’s first Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) flight from the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital since 2019, and part of efforts to combat trafficking and exploitation in the region.

"IOM stands ready and willing to continue this collaborative return effort in line with international protocols and standards, and hopes this movement is the first of many from Sana'a," said Carmela Godeau, IOM's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement.

The flight comes shortly after the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

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Despite Yemen's ongoing war, migrants from Africa continue to travel to the country in search of employment in Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring oil-rich states whose economies depend on millions of foreign labourers.

Some 35,000 Ethiopian migrants travelled to Yemen in 2020 and 127,000 in 2019, before the outbreak of the coronavirus suppressed demand for labour in the Gulf states, according to the IOM.

Rights groups and humanitarian organisations say that migrants are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in Yemen, where they also face barriers to receiving support and essential services.

Those who boarded Tuesday's VHR flight underwent medical and protection screenings prior to travelling to Addis Ababa, the IOM said.

They have also been given access to mental health and psychosocial support, as well as cash assistance for onward travel to their homes.