African migrants gather beside a road in the eastern city of Marib, Yemen | Photo: EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
African migrants gather beside a road in the eastern city of Marib, Yemen | Photo: EPA/YAHYA ARHAB

In spite of the ongoing civil war, the number of migrants arriving in Yemen has increased significantly. The UN Migration Agency IOM is concerned that more and more migrants will find themselves exposed to violence and danger without any protection.

The number of migrants arriving in Yemen will rise by 50 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, the International Organization for Migration's (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) forecasts. The UN agency expects nearly 150,000 migrants to enter the country this year. IOM said that so far this year, Yemen's migrant arrivals clearly exceeded arrivals to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea (107,216 arrivals this year). This is despite the ongoing conflict in Yemen and deadly perils along migration routes across the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea. 

92 percent of migrants are Ethiopian nationals 

Located at the cusp of two continents - Africa and Asia, Yemen historically has been an origin, transit and destination country of migrants. Today, an estimated 92 percent of its incoming migrants are Ethiopian nationals, with Somalis accounting for the rest. (Both countries are located in Eastern Africa, across the Gulf from Yemen.) 

Minors only 20 percent of migrants 

Most migrants reaching Yemen travel first by land, primarily through Djibouti, and eventually undergo perilous boat journeys across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. This route is now one of the busiest maritime migration routes in the world. A smaller number of migrants sets off from Somali's coastline. 

Both routes to Yemen are among the world's most "youthful," in the sense that minors account for an estimated 20 percent of the migrants, many of them unaccompanied. "These migrants dream of a better life for themselves and their families, they seek work, security and new opportunities, and most are too young to understand the difficulties," said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM's Director of Operations and Emergencies. "They face risk and abuse on the way, including human trafficking. Most who make it to Yemen then find themselves stuck in a conflict, exposed to further violence and danger." 

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