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Horn of Africa: Population Movement, Yemeni Crisis - Information Bulletin n° 1

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The situation

Since January 2015, the tensions in Yemen turned into a conflict which forced the President, Mr Hadi, to flee the capital Sanaa in February. In late March, the President requested a coalition led by Saudi Arabia to intervene and launched air strikes on Houthi targets. The coalition comprises five Gulf Arab states as well as Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan.

The conflict has so far displaced an estimated 100,000 people, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Majority of those displaced have only been able to move short distances, for example from the heavily bombarded capital, Sana’a, to Amran governorate about an hour’s drive to the north, and from the southern port city of Aden, another target for air strikes, to Abyan in the south east.

Over 600 people have been killed since the bombing campaign and ground combat started. According to the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health puts the death toll at over 1,000 people.
With the Saudi-led aerial bombardment of Yemen intensifying and a full-scale civil war appearing increasingly inevitable, as many as a million African migrants and refugees in the country could be looking for the few immediate escape routes (Djibouti and Somalia) .Yemen itself is host to over 250,000 refugees, mostly Somalis, and a million migrants, the majority of them from Ethiopia. Along with the Somali refugees, Yemen host lot of economic migrants from Eastern Africa region mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti. In this context, Humanitarian organizations are looking at the possible evacuation of refugees from Aden to Djibouti. There is great concern about a large number of Somali refugees living among the local population in Basateen on the outskirts of Aden, where fighting has been intense in the last few days.

As fighting intensifies in Yemen, authorities have closed Ports and air traffic is largely restricted to evacuation flights for nationals of western or Asian countries. A few hundred foreign nationals have been allowed to cross a land border into Oman. Due to closure of ports, compounded with fuel shortages, sea crossings to the Horn of Africa are increasingly difficult. The Government of Yemen is closing many of the exit points and people are queuing to depart. For time being this might affect steady flow of returnees and refugees in to Djibouti and Somalia.