IOM: The Number of Migrants to Yemen is Increasing


Mon, 09-08-2021 06:46 PM, Aden

South24 | Geneva 

The International Organization for Migration said that the number of migrants to Yemen are starting to show a slow increase, with the decrease of restrictions on international movements related to the Corona virus, although the overall numbers are still low compared to the pre-pandemic years.

In a recent report published by the organization on Sunday, covering the period from April to June 2021, the IOM estimated that 4876 migrants arrived in Yemen during this period, compared to 3669 migrants in the same period in 2020, 47,269 migrants in 2019 and 31,644 immigrants in 2018.

According to the organization, "the majority of illegal immigrants travel to Yemen by boat, from Somalia or Djibouti. During this dangerous journey, boat capsize accidents are often reported". On June 14, 2021, the media reported that a boat that had set off from Djibouti on board sank. "More than 200 Ethiopian migrants are in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. Although the number of casualties cannot be confirmed, IOM’s Mobile Medical Teams (MMTs) recovered at least one body and local fishermen have reported burying more than 30 victims."

The IOM estimated that more than 32,000 migrants were stranded in major urban centers (in the governorates of Aden, Marib, Shabwa, Al Bayda, Sanaa and Saada). The majority of them live in appalling conditions with very limited access to basic services such as shelter, food, water and health care.

Heinous violations

The report said that women and children in particular face greater risks, as they are detained in the yards and dens of smugglers across the country and subjected to physical violence and abuse. Others are trying to continue heading North towards exit points in Saada Governorate and face an increased risk of arrest and transfer to South.

"Despite the smaller number of migrants making the journey through Yemen to KSA (as compared to pre-COVID-19 years) smuggler networks are being maintained as smugglers continue to prey on vulnerable migrants," according to the organization. 

In Marib, for example, the IOM estimates that about 650 migrants arrived this quarter; The majority came from Shabwa.

The organization revealed that, "an estimated 200 women who, while in prolonged detention by smugglers, reportedly faced at least one form of gender-based violence and increased levels of extortion."

The organization said that "smugglers are adopting alternative methods of exploiting migrants to preserve profits during this period. For example, in Marib, women are often sent to farms to work off debts, while others are held in overcrowded conditions where they are exploited and abused. In other parts of South, IOM and partners continue to document some of the most egregious forms of abuse at the hands of smugglers and trackers, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), torture, abduction for ransom. In South, the organization and its partners continue to document the most egregious forms of abuse at the hands of smugglers, including sexual and gender-based violence, torture, and kidnapping for ransom.”

According to the organization, the total number of migrants currently stranded in Marib ranges between 4000 and 5000 as some migrants leave in an attempt to cross the border.

In the aftermath of the March 7 fire incident at the Immigration and Passport Agency detention facility in Sanaa, the organization called for the facility to be closed, restrictions on the use of detention and a halt to forcible transfers.

It also called on other humanitarian actors to lift restrictions on humanitarian responses to migrants to allow for comprehensive assistance, including independent support for voluntary humanitarian returns.

Facilitating the return

The IOM said it is working with relevant authorities to ensure that return flights takes place in the next quarter, which represents an important step to alleviate the needs of stranded migrants.

"In Aden, three return flights took place this year, and more than 8,600 migrants were registered for future trips," the organization noted.

According to International Migration, a delegation of officials from the Ethiopian government is scheduled to travel to Aden to conduct a new citizenship verification process for registered migrants.

"Forcible deportation and transfer of migrants from northern to southern governorates has continued to increase during the second quarter" IOM said.

Between December 2019 and March 2021, IOM documented at least 23,000 individuals pushed across active frontlines in a systematic campaign to deport migrants out of certain areas. Since April 2021, IOM has received anecdotal information of a further 10,000 moved to southern governorates, as humanitarian actors have observed migrants being transported in cramped trucks and provided with little information about their journey.

Photo: A map showing the movement of migrants to and from Yemen (International Migration)