GENEVA - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports Yemeni authorities are deporting hundreds of migrants from the Horn of Africa to Djibouti under deplorable conditions.
IOM does not assist governments in the forcible deportation of migrants but spokesman Itayi Viriri says the IOM is a humanitarian organization and as such cannot turn a blind eye to the desperation of people who have been expelled from a country such as Yemen and are in need of assistance.
Viriri told VOA Yemeni authorities are forcibly deporting migrants, mainly from Ethiopia, who have been languishing in detention in sub-standard conditions with little food, water or medical care. He said a boatload of 82 Ethiopian migrants was unceremoniously dropped off last week in a small coastal town about 30 kilometers from Obock in Djibouti.
“These people are in a really desperate situation. They are left out in the open and... what we see, I mean the condition of the migrants who are deported basically were in very bad conditions, dehydrated, without enough to eat, barely enough clothes on their backs.”
Viriri said Djiboutian authorities confirm at least 24 migrants have died in recent weeks due to deportation conditions.
In a separate operation, the IOM has taken advantage in a lull in the fighting in Yemen to resume the voluntary return of thousands of stranded Ethiopians and Somalis to their home countries. This long-term operation was temporarily suspended due to airstrikes and ground combat in Yemen.
Viriri said 150 migrants, including 118 unaccompanied minors and 31 women, were evacuated from the city of Hodeidah in western Yemen aboard an IOM-chartered boat, which arrived Friday in Djibouti.
He said there are plans to evacuate another 600 Ethiopians from Hodeidah at a rate of 150 people every four days from now until the end of December.
Additionally, he said the IOM aims to help 2,500 Somalis stranded in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden return home by boat and plane. The next evacuation from Aden to Somalia, he said, should take place in early December.