Migrants being detained in Yemen | Photo: IOM
Migrants being detained in Yemen | Photo: IOM

Yemeni authorities have detained over 2,000 irregular migrants in Aden, according to the UN migration agency IOM. The organization has expressed deep concern over the conditions in which they are being held.

IOM said that Yemeni authorities have rounded up and arbitrarily detained over 2,000 irregular migrants, mostly Ethiopians, in Aden, "creating an acute humanitarian situation." 

''We urge the local authorities to work with the humanitarian community to find safer alternatives to detention and to ensure a full spectrum of protection services are available for those detained, particularly the hundreds of children and approximately 60 women, who have been rounded up," said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s director of operations and emergencies.   

At least 400 children affected

The migrants - including at least 400 children - were held at Al Mansoura Football Stadium in Aden city. Up to 1,000 people are also being detained at a military camp in neighbouring Lahj governorate, roughly a 35-minute drive from the city.

On Thursday night, local youths opened the gates of Al Mansoura stadium, allowing the migrants to escape. The authorities began rounding up the escaped migrants and are now detaining an unknown number at a second football stadium in the city’s Sheik Usman area. 

Stadium not equipped to host people, IOM 

IOM said: ''Neither open-air stadium is designed to accommodate large numbers people. [H]olding thousands there will inevitably create a substantial sanitation problem, risking the spread of disease amongst detainees.'' 

The UN agency noted that it is coordinating the humanitarian community’s response and focusing on critical needs - providing basic health care, food and water, and sanitation. 

The Yemeni government has indicated that the migrants detained in Aden will be moved to the military camp in the coming days but humanitarian agencies are concerned that this will happen before the camp is ready. "The proposed sites are a few empty, damaged buildings unfit for human habitation. Clean water and safe sanitation are not available for the thousands that may be detained," IOM said. 

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