Migrants stranded in Hodeida are forced to wait for the resumption of IOM's return assistance Photo: IOM
Migrants stranded in Hodeida are forced to wait for the resumption of IOM's return assistance Photo: IOM

The UN's International Organization for Migration has announced that it has postponed until further notice voluntary repatriations from the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, due to violence that has been going on there for nearly two weeks.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says it has been forced to postpone until further notice voluntary humanitarian return assistance to migrants stranded in the Yemeni port city of Hodeida. In a statement, the IOM said military operations there have caused 5,775 Yemenis to flee their homes since June 13, and the number is expected to grow in the coming days.

Appeal to respect human lives

"A few weeks ago, it was almost unimaginable that the situation in Yemen - already the world's worst humanitarian crisis - could have deteriorated even further to the extent that the military offensive on Hodeida has caused," said Sarat Dash, IOM Yemen Chief of Mission. "We call on all parties to the conflict to show respect for human life, whether they be Yemeni nationals or a migrant caught in the conflict," he added.

On June 14, the IOM cancelled a voluntary humanitarian return operation that would have helped over 200 migrants get home from the warzone via Hodeida port. In addition, thousands of migrants are stranded in or near the frontlines. Following heavy shelling and air strikes near the IOM's Migrant Response Point in Hodeida, 22 migrants were immediately evacuated to Sana'a. They were traumatized by the experience and are currently housed with foster families.

Over 2,800 repatriations from Hodeida in 2017

In 2017, IOM helped 2,860 migrants return home from Yemen, of whom 746 migrants were voluntary returnees through Hodeida port. Most were Ethiopian migrants. So far in 2018, the IOM has helped over 430 migrants with return assistance. It is unknown how many migrants live or are transiting through Yemen but the IOM estimates that approximately 100,000 entered the country in 2017, mostly en route to the Gulf countries.

"Voluntary humanitarian return is a lifeline for many migrants who become stranded in Yemen. Without it, migrants are forced to spend longer in a warzone putting their lives at great risk and causing undue distress to people, who have typically already suffered enormously," said Dash.

The rising displacement caused by the offensive is in addition to the over 89,000, who were already displaced in the country prior to the current military offensive.

 

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