News / Africa

Doctors Without Borders Finds Tortured Migrants


Kim Lewis
The international medical aid group, Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF,  has been working to provide treatment over the past 10 days to more than 1,700 migrants, including women and children, who have been recent victims of human trafficking in Yemen. 

The medical group reports that most of the migrants have been tortured by smugglers, and have extensive humanitarian and psychological needs.  MSF officials say they’re worried about the future of the thousands of migrants who are still stranded in Yemen. Most of them are from Ethiopia.

Tarek Daher, the head of mission in Yemen for Doctors without Borders, said “around 105, 000 migrants are coming on a yearly basis from the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia mainly, up to Yemen, trying to cross the Saudi borders in order to find some work there.”  He said ten days ago the Yemeni authorities conducted a raid on smugglers who were keeping the migrants for ransom, or to work on their farms for no pay.  

Once freed from the smugglers, the migrants were transferred to two main centers, one in Haradh in northern Yemen, and the other close to the capital, Sana’a.  

“We went and tried to give medical treatment for those who are in need, and this is where we saw that they were tortured by the smugglers in Yemen,” said Daher, who went on to  explain that the migrants were found to be in horrific condition.  He said many had been beaten and many had had their nails pulled out.  In addition, Daher said many had not eaten for up to seven days while being held in captivity. 

“MSF tried to give them mental health sessions in order to just help them understand a little bit what is going on with them,” said Daher.

The Yemeni government has been working to send the migrants back home in small groups.    

Daher said MSF is urging the international community to help provide assistance to the thousands of migrants still in Yemen, and most importantly to help protect the migrants from being tortured by smugglers

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