The director of operations and emergencies at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Mohammed Abdiker, has expressed concern for the ''appalling'' situation endured by migrants in Yemen. Speaking after a visit to Yemen last week, Abdiker said he was ''extremely concerned about the appalling and inhumane situation migrants are facing in Yemen'' and called for ''greater support and protection both from the international community and authorities in-country''.
7,000 migrants cross into Yemen each month
A reported 7,000 migrants enter Yemen each month with the total number of migrant arrivals in 2017 reaching nearly 100,000, the agency has said. The vast majority intends to reach Gulf countries, in particular Saudi Arabia.
''Last August, it shocked the world when scores of Ethiopian and Somali teenagers dreaming of a better life were forced into the sea by smugglers off the coast of Yemen and drowned'', Abdiker was reported as saying by the UN agency. ''This shock never translated into greater protection for other youth, who also have nothing but the hope of opportunity far from their rural homes and can only afford and access a deadly migration route through a conflict-zone''.
Dramatic risks due to violence, conflict
Both while traveling to Yemen and once they reach the country, many migrants suffer at the hands of smugglers and other criminals, including physical and sexual abuse, torture for ransom, arbitrary detention for long periods of time, forced labor for no pay and even death. Some migrants also end up getting involved in the conflict, sustaining injuries or dying. Some are taken to detention centers.
''I met teenagers in utter distress from what they had experienced already in their young lives,'' Abdiker explained. ''They are just a commodity to smugglers - something to make quick and easy money from and, if they die, the smugglers do not care as there are thousands of other people willing to pay for their services and risk their lives ''.
In 2017 IOM helped some 2,900 migrants and refugees return to their home countries from Yemen. A reported 73 percent were Somali nationals, 25 percent were from Ethiopia and 2 percent were from other countries. ''Yemen is experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world; it is obviously not a safe route for migrants'', said Abdiker.