News / Africa

Thousands of Migrants Stranded in Yemen

Yemen
Yemen

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
Humanitarian agencies say thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa are living in harrowing conditions along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border. Many have been robbed and tortured by traffickers.

Migrant workers from the Horn see Saudi Arabia as a place where they may find jobs. But getting there often means traveling to and through Yemen and becoming targets of smugglers and traffickers.

The routes to Yemen include long and dangerous boat trips from Somalia over the Gulf of Aden - and the much shorter trip from Djibouti across the Red Sea. But there, too, they are at the mercy of smugglers, who may rob them or even throw them overboard.

The International Organization for Migration estimates there are at least 25,000 migrants along the Yemen-Saudi border.

“The majority are Ethiopian migrants, who undertake this really quite dangerous journey. There’s also a number of refugees who come across. They’re mostly Somalis, who are recognized as refugees automatically here in Yemen because Yemen is a signatory to the refugee convention. But three-quarters of the flows coming across from the Horn of Africa are indeed Ethiopian migrants,” said Nicoletta Giordano, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Yemen.

Yemen does not recognize the Ethiopians as refugees.

“They find themselves destitute and quite exhausted by the journey by the time they get to the border with Saudi. And that’s where they fall prey to smugglers and traffickers with respect to the final leg of the journey over to Saudi Arabia,” she said.

To make matters worse, Saudi Arabia has tightened its foreign worker labor laws. It means the border is essentially closed to the migrants. Saudi Arabia has also resumed building a fence to eventually seal off the 1800 kilometer border with Yemen.

“Many of the foreign workers that were in Saudi up till now are no longer considered regular workers. And therefore are obliged to leave the country quite suddenly. And on the other hand, there are still thriving smuggling and trafficking communities at the border with Saudi, who have these large groups of migrants, who they are trying to get across. But they’re also trying to get money and possessions from [them] and that’s why they’re prey to abuse,” she said.

Recently, Yemen forces raided smuggler camps along the border at Haradh. They are reported to have rescued nearly 2,000 migrants being held against their will. Some had been sold from one smuggling group to another and some were held for ransom.

But even after being freed from the camps, there’s little humanitarian aid available for them. Aid agencies said their resources are already stretched very thin. The IOM is appealing for $1.2 million dollars to help Yemen provide shelter, food and health care.

A delegation from humanitarian agencies visited the Yemen-Saudi border Thursday. They describe conditions there as harrowing.

The stranded migrants are taken to the capital.

“The migrants are brought down to Sana’a. And, of course, they’re being held in the open, and the migrants would be free to actually walk off, but they’re not. They’re not, because it’s obvious that there’s nothing for them in Yemen. And so they’re quite keen to go back to Ethiopia,” said Giordano.

However, getting them back home is easier said than done. So far, only one of three scheduled military flights has left Sana’a for Ethiopia. There were 318 Ethiopians on board, a fraction of those wanting to return.

While more flights are being planned, the IOM says many migrants have sought shelter at the Ethiopian embassy and a Yemeni military base.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid