IOM Resumes Airlift of Stranded Ethiopian Migrants from Yemen
IOM Press Briefing Notes Friday 27th July 2012 Spokesperson: Jumbe Omari Jumbe
Two IOM-chartered flights will depart from Yemen's al-Hodeida International Airport on Saturday (28/7) and Tuesday (31/7) for Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, carrying some 554 stranded Ethiopian migrants.
The migrants were stranded in the north western Yemeni city of Haradh, near the border with Saudi Arabia. The town is a stepping stone for migrants from the Horn of Africa en route to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in search of work.
Unable to cross the border, due to tight Saudi border controls, thousands of migrants become stranded there. Many suffer extreme hardships including hunger, a lack of shelter and abuse from criminal gangs.
Ethiopian consular officials and Yemeni immigration staff are now in Haradh issuing emergency travel documents and exit permits for the returnees. Pre-departure health checks and distribution of clothing and hygiene kits are also underway.
Extremely vulnerable migrants including women, children and medical cases will be given priority on the flights. On arrival in Ethiopia, the migrants will be met by IOM officials who will organize onward transportation to take them to their final destinations.
"I am happy to be returning to my country very soon. I have received treatment from IOM and Yemeni Red Crescent Society medical staff in Haradh for eight months and am now well enough to go home," said one returnee, who had been beaten by smugglers. He suffered severe injuries including a fractured vertebra.
In 2011 IOM's voluntary return programme in Haradh helped 7,000 mainly Ethiopian migrants to return home. It was suspended earlier this year due to lack of funding.
But a recent US$ 2.1 million donation by the Dutch government for IOM humanitarian activities in Yemen will now allow another 1,800 destitute migrants to return home to their countries of origin.
IOM's Haradh Migrant Response Centre was set up in 2010 to help the most vulnerable migrants. The centre, which was designed to accommodate 150 people, is now home to 300.
For more information, please contact Nicoletta Giordano at IOM Yemen, Tel: +9671410568. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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