Yemen + 4 more

Protection context for migrants passing through Yemen: A baseline 2019

Originally published


Key Findings

  • Migration from the Horn of Africa (HoA) through Yemen is likely to increase in the coming years, and hubs are likely to remain stable. The number of migrants passing through Yemen has increased over the last decade, and is likely to continue to increase in the future. This is due both to drivers of migration within the Horn of Africa and to the conflict within Yemen, which facilitates irregular migratory pathways to the Gulf. Migrants move along flexible paths to avoid the conflict, but rely on logistical hubs that are stable.

  • The migration flow is rooted in Ethiopia and takes place primarily for economic reasons. Over 90% of migrants passing through Yemen come from Ethiopia; of these, the majority are from the Oromo region, and a significant minority come from the Amhara region. Most migrants are young, and are searching for better economic opportunities and safety from physical harm. Many migrants are looking specifically for relatively low skilled jobs currently available in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and other Gulf countries.

  • The conflict generates specific protection risks, and migrants are likely not to be aware of these risks. Migrants passing through Yemen are often unaware of the conflict when they leave home. Information about conflict and insecurity is usually shared at exit points on the shores of Djibouti, or inside Yemen itself. Protection risks that migrants face are higher due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen – migrants face increased risk of physical violence at checkpoints and front lines, as well as risk from airstrikes. These risks are heightened by language barriers with migrants unable to communicate or negotiate safe passage effectively in Arabic with security personnel they encounter.