Sana’a / Addis Abeba, January 30/2019 – Approximately 350 Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen are set to fly home this week under the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) latest Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) flight operation. Such airlifts resumed from Yemen in late November last year.
IOM is handling the logistics to ensure the safe departure of the migrants from Sana’a International Airport to Bole International Airport in Addis Abeba, IOM said in a statement. The beneficiaries started departing on chartered flights yesterday and will continue today.
“There are currently limited pathways for migrants to return home from Yemen. Through the support of and close coordination with government authorities, partners and IOM teams, we have been able to ensure migrants can reach their countries of origin in a safe and orderly manner,” said David Derthick, IOM Yemen Chief of Mission.
“IOM will continue to prioritize return movements for migrants in 2019,” he continued. The Organization plans to assist more than 3,000 migrants with VHR services this year.
IOM had previously suspended VHR airlifts after the escalation of the conflict in 2015. During the suspension, IOM transported migrants on chartered boats across the Gulf of Aden. In 2018, IOM provided VHR to more than 1,000 vulnerable migrants.
Unpredictable sea conditions, however, often caused delays or restrictions of movement – at times forcing boats to return to Al-Hudaydah’s port.
Humanitarian airlifts resumed in November 2018, after IOM coordinated with Yemeni and Ethiopian authorities to allow more than 400 migrants to safely return over the course of four days.
Despite the ongoing conflict, Yemen’s proximity to the Horn of Africa means that it remains a significant transit point for migrants seeking livelihoods and opportunities. IOM expects mixed migration flows to Yemen will continue this year, affirming the importance of IOM’s Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
In addition to operating the VHR mechanism out of Yemen, IOM teams provide humanitarian and protection support to vulnerable migrants throughout the country. While efforts are made to meet migrants upon arrival and ensure basic needs are met, IOM also provides longer term interventions, such as health and shelter. Additionally, psychosocial support services help those that have suffered trauma and loss during their journey.
Given the current restrictions on movement, transporting migrants out of Yemen is especially challenging. Many of those assisted require additional support, such as medical escorts to provide in-flight care.
In addition, IOM provides specialized care for unaccompanied migrant children, many of whom were unprepared for the treacherous journey to Yemen. IOM works closely with authorities in Yemen and Ethiopia to ensure these children are cleared for travel and that family members are prepared for reunification.
Upon arrival, IOM Ethiopia provides returnees with temporary accommodation at a transit center, meals and non-food items, onward transportation assistance and psychosocial support to those in need.
Returnees in need of further medical assistance will be referred to health providers while unaccompanied minors will receive family tracing and reunification assistance. A few vulnerable migrants will receive reintegration assistance through cash grants. IOM