On Sunday 12th April, IOM organized its first charter flight to evacuate 141 third country nationals (TCNs) from Sana’a, Yemen. “The operation was a success and paves the way for continuing the evacuations of more than 16,000 third country nationals who are stranded in Yemen”, IOM said, adding it has received requests from 38 countries to evacuate their nationals out of Yemen.
“The first flight required multiple and complex approvals and logistical arrangements. This followed more than a week of efforts coordinating the participation of several governments in the region, which facilitated and allowed the flight clearance and departure on Sunday from Sana’a to Khartoum in Sudan.”
Saba Malme, Operations Coordinator for IOM Yemen, reported Sunday that some of the evacuees leaving on this initial flight had been waiting for several days at the airport in Sanaa.
“Hopefully we’ll be a little more organized tomorrow, when we do our next flight,” Malme said. He explained that about two dozen TCNs whose names had been cleared for evacuation failed to arrive at the airport. “We tried to contact them, without success,” he said.
The IOM chartered plane that left Sana’a on Sunday landed in Khartoum, Sudan, shortly after 3:00 pm local time. The passenger roster included nationals from Sudan, Ethiopia, USA, several Europeans, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea, Syria, Iraq and Indonesia.
“With this launching of the humanitarian bridge between Sana’a and Khartoum, the Sudanese government has helped IOM in a very complicated humanitarian operation,” said Mario Lito Malanca, IOM’s Sudan Chief of Mission. “IOM will continue to work with Sudan to address the needs of all migrants impacted by the conflict in Yemen.”
IOM has been inundated with calls from migrants, private citizens and family members of people believed to be stranded in Yemen. IOM has identified about 16,000 persons who urgently need international travel assistance, of whom some 5,000 are believed to be ready to travel immediately. Additionally, 38 different governments have reached IOM to discuss evacuating their nationals from Yemen.
“We have negotiated with both the Sudanese and Ethiopian Governments to allow IOM to set up a humanitarian air bridge,” said Mohammed Abdiker, Director of IOM’s Department of Operations and Emergencies. “We hope to have by next week several rotations between Khartoum and Sana’a daily. We also intend to start another round of rotations between Sana’a and Addis Abeba.”
The IOM flight also evacuated stranded Yemeni travelers who found themselves waiting in different airports and urgently needing international travel assistance. These stranded travelers are those who were travelling for medical, business and other reasons and wish to return to Yemen.
Sunday’s flight originated out of Amman and took the Yemeni stranded travelers who signed a declaration to the effect that they wanted to return to Yemen voluntarily.
IOM said it intends to continue the evacuation operations until all TCNs requesting assistance were provided with the necessary support. “We thank all the authorities who provided the access and support IOM needed to carry out this first evacuation,” said Abdiker.
IOM last week appealed for funding to support its evacuation operations, as well as its humanitarian assistance program inside Yemen. IOM’s initial appeal was for USD 10 million and this amount is expected to significantly increase to cover the demand and expected caseload of evacuations.
Last week, IOM Yemen also established a hotline number based in Cairo [00 202 02 15 36 128 / 00 201 021 53 61 88] to receive requests from people who want to be evacuated from Yemen.