Ethiopian migrants go home on first ever return flight from Yemeni Ma’rib – Global Issues

It is the first of several flights planned by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help 900 Ethiopians flee the Arabian Peninsula over the next month.

“Migrants stranded in Ma’rib live in fear,” said Christa Rottensteiner, head of IOM Yemen’s mission.

β€œMany are under the control of smuggling groups who expose migrants to exploitation and violence.”

Keep flights high

While thousands wait in dire circumstances for the same opportunity to return home, IOM needs $7.5 million to continue flights from Ma’rib and Aden.

†The cost of doing nothing far exceeds the cost of helping those stranded and desperate to get out of a plightsaid Mrs Rottensteiner.

Frontline dangers

With its urban center about 25 kilometers from the nearest front line, Ma’rib has been one of the key hotspots of Yemen’s seven-year conflict.

The governorate faces the highest levels of displacement in the country as nearly one million Yemenis have been displaced since the start of the conflict.

In recent years, it has also become a transit point for migrants heading to Saudi Arabia.

Stranded and threatened

An estimated 4,500 migrants stranded in Ma’rib have been unable to cross dangerous front lines to reach their destination, or have been held against their will for extended periods of time by smugglers.

Some have been looking for a safe way out of Yemen for two years now.
Migrant women in Ma’rib are particularly vulnerable and often report violations, including sexual assault.

While living without access to adequate health care, food and other basic necessities, some become pregnant and need to find ways to care for babies.

Protecting traveling migrants

In addition to flights, IOM provides registration and documentation services, medical consultations and secure accommodation to ensure the protection of traveling migrants prior to take-off.

On arrival, they will also receive accommodation at the IOM transit center, money for onward travel to their home community, family tracing and reunification, medical screening and psychosocial support.

To meet the needs of returnees, IOM has aligned its humanitarian relief and protection services with the Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen 2022.

“We urgently need more donor support to help people out of danger,” the IOM Yemen mission chief said.

The United States and Norway support scheduled VHR flights from Ma’rib.

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