Last week the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) organized the voluntary return of 222 migrants from Yemen's capital, Sana'a, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Unable to continue to support themselves or fund their travel home, the migrants were left stranded in the country in conflict. In a statement, the UN agency said it provided three flights over three days for the return home of 137 men, 11 women and 28 children. A fourth flight with an additional 46 people left on Saturday, bringing the total number of people assisted in all four flights to 222.
First new flights since March 2019
IOM said last week's flights were the first return journeys from Sana'a since mid-March 2019. IOM was only able to resume air movements from Yemen in November 2018, after having had to suspend them when the conflict broke out in 2015. During the time when flights were suspended, the organization used journeys by sea to repatriate vulnerable Ethiopian migrants to their country of origin, passing through Djibouti. In Yemen, IOM provides the returning migrants with pre-departure assistance, including medical and psychosocial care. On arrival in Ethiopia, the returnees undergo health screenings and then are housed in IOM's transit center in Addis Ababa. From there, IOM supports them in reaching their final destinations.
Migrants continue to arrive in Yemen despite conflict
IOM said despite the ongoing conflict in Yemen, migrants seeking economic opportunities in Gulf countries continue to make the treacherous journey by land and sea to the Arabian Peninsula. All along the route, migrants face many challenges in accessing protection and assistance. IOM is committed to supporting Yemen and the region in managing migration in a sustainable and humane way.
In 2018, the UN agency helped 1,040 migrants leave Yemen and return home. So far in 2019, the organization has supported the voluntary return of 733 migrants. The UN agency also works with UNHCR to support the voluntary return of refugees, and provided assistance to 2,590 Somali refugees in their return from Aden last year.