Yemen + 2 more

Yemen: Mixed Migration Update, January 2016 [EN/AR]



Yemen is a historic transit hub for mixed migratory movements of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. Although Yemen is the poorest of the Gulf countries, it stands out in the region for its generosity towards refugees. It is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula that is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. UNHCR Yemen works with local and international partners, UN agencies and other organizations to monitor the movement and provide protection and assistance – particularly to those who need additional support such as women and unaccompanied and separated children.


Over the last decade the number of new arrivals at the coast of Yemen from the Horn of Africa, primarily Ethiopians and Somalis, has steadily grown. Yemen has been according prima facie status to Somali refugees fleeing conflict and violence in their homeland for over 20 years. Many of the Ethiopians are fleeing poverty and drought, and have travelled in pursuit of economic or education opportunities. The vast majority of Ethiopian new arrivals use Yemen as a country of transit and continue onward to other Gulf States, although many become stranded in Yemen. Those seeking asylum approach the Government of Yemen and UNHCR.

2015 had the third highest number of arrivals (92,446) since UNHCR started the systematic recording of arrivals on Yemen’s Arabian and Red Sea coasts in 2006. Only 2011 (103,154) and 2012 (107,532) showed higher arrival figures. The number of Ethiopians that made the crossing (82,268) is the second highest on record after 2012 (84,376). UNHCR and partners in Somalia have been working with the international community and Somali authorities to improve political, security and socio-economic conditions as well as actively pursue durable solutions for returnees and IDPs in Somalia. Consequently, the number of Somalis making the risky journey is at its lowest for a decade at a little over 10,000 from a high of just over 33,000 in 2008.

Over two thirds of the new arrivals in 2015 came after the conflict in the country escalated in March. New arrivals continue to be misinformed about the severity of the conflict in Yemen and believe that the situation has become relatively calm in some of the southern governorates, or follow rumours of improved access into neighbouring Gulf countries. Due to the ongoing conflict, new arrivals face movement restrictions in Yemen, and risk being injured or killed in the conflict. There are now fewer income opportunities and available services, and organized gangs and smugglers continue to operate along the Red Sea coast.

Alongside the continuing inflow, due to the conflict and ever-deepening humanitarian crisis in Yemen there has also been an outflow of 169,863 Yemenis, refugees and third country nationals who have fled to countries in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf in 2015.