News / Africa

Stranded Ethiopian Migrants Return From Yemen

Ethiopian migrants, stranded on Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia, recite prayers appealing for evacuation to their home country from the western Yemeni town of Haradh, March 30, 2012.Ethiopian migrants, stranded on Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia, recite prayers appealing for evacuation to their home country from the western Yemeni town of Haradh, March 30, 2012.
Ethiopian migrants, stranded on Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia, recite prayers appealing for evacuation to their home country from the western Yemeni town of Haradh, March 30, 2012.
Ethiopian migrants, stranded on Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia, recite prayers appealing for evacuation to their home country from the western Yemeni town of Haradh, March 30, 2012.
Almost 300 stranded Ethiopian migrants returned on Tuesday from Yemen. Thousands more remain stuck in nearby countries, though, after they went abroad illegally for economic reasons.
A charter flight by IOM, the International Organization for Migration, carried 275 Ethiopian migrants back to Addis Ababa on Tuesday morning. These migrants had crossed the borders illegally and were stranded in Yemen.  

IOM assists with the return and reintegration of migrants worldwide, and has helped more than 2,000 Ethiopians to return voluntarily from Yemen since March.
Yemen itself was not the destination for most. Demissew Bizuwork of the IOM said most were trying to reach Saudi Arabia.
“Many would like to travel to the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, and other Middle East countries. Most people, when we interview them, they would like to cross, because Yemen is very close to the Horn of Africa, so they would like to cross through Yemen to Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries,” said Bizuwork.

Addis Ababa shelter

The returnees on the charter flight on Tuesday were brought to a shelter close to the airport in Addis Ababa upon arrival. Women, children, elderly and vulnerable migrants are accommodated in the shelter for a day or two. Demissew said it's better for the returnees to rest in the shelter for a couple of days, before going back home.
“When we bring people directly from the airport, we bring them here so that they can settle here. These people lost everything. We provide them with accommodation, food, medical assistance as well," said Demissew. "We provide them some reintegration assistance, some money so that they at least when they come to their families they can do something. And we also provide them with transportation up to their destination."

Hopes for a better economic future lead many Ethiopians to leave their country. But for most migrants, the reality in Yemen is opposite from what they were told before departure. Smugglers and human traffickers convince Ethiopians that life in the Middle East is much better, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti.
“There are some push factors and one of the major push factors is actually the people who are involved in the illegal human trafficking," said Mufti. "They deceive the minors. They have targeted the rural areas, where people are not familiar with what is happening in the rest of the world. The deal with the minors and the youngsters, they target them, they promise them something that is not there."

Returness discuss experiences

Yohannes is one of the returnees at the shelter. He is in his twenties and comes from the Tigray region in the north of Ethiopia. He left his job as a merchant six months ago in hopes of making more money. But the trip ended badly, as he was detained in Yemen.
“Its a very difficult journey. They beat you and they don’t take care of you,” he said.

Gobeze is another of the migrants at the shelter. He is in his twenties, has a wife and three kids in the Wollo province, but decided to leave Ethiopia in December. Although he already had a job as a weaver, he hoped to make more money in the Middle East. But the journey only cost him money, said Gobeze.
“Initially I paid 4,000 birr. But they were hanging me by my arms and I was suffering so I had to ask my family for another 15,000 to save my life,” he said.

Rising tide of migrant Ethiopians

Yohannes and Gobeze are just two of the thousands of Ethiopians experiencing the hardship of illegal migration. But the number of Ethiopians crossing over to Yemen has been rising in recent years. Statistics of the United Nations refugee agency show that more than 103,000 Ethiopian and Somali migrants arrived in Yemen in 2011, up from 53,000 in 2010.
The Ethiopian government has formed task forces and is working with various organizations to inform people about the dangers of illegal migration, said Mufti.
“The government has recently been aware of the fact that the gravity of the illegal immigration, the human trafficking is felt.  Because it has a social consequence, and economic consequence, and psychological consequence as well.  Now what is happening is to try things from the grass root, to go to the grass root level and create an awareness on the part of the citizen that these human traffickers are doing damage to the country.”

The IOM charter flight on Tuesday was the third and last flight in September. Many more Ethiopians in Yemen are waiting to go home, said Demissew.
“There are thousands of people stranded, there are about 4,000 people in the border town. Our center accommodates about 350 people. It was initially built to accommodate maybe 150, 200 people. But there are many more people,” said Demissew.

The next flight returning illegal migrants to Ethiopia is expected in October.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Awot Gidey from: Addis Ababa
September 27, 2012 5:18 AM
There is huge migration from Ethiopia to Somalia and Yemen. If you ask some Ethiopians they tell you that they still want to go and in recent months many of them died on the way to South Africa. It is better to tackle the cause than the symptom. There is chronic maladministration. The new civilian administration need to address it.

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs