The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced that this year’s first voluntary humanitarian return flight has departed from Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, with 129 Ethiopian migrants on board.
“The movement to Addis Ababa is an important lifeline for stranded migrants seeking a safe and dignified way to return home from Yemen,” the UN migration agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the IOM, the flight is carrying migrants, including unaccompanied minors and those with medical conditions and other specific needs, who were left stranded as a result of insecurity and restrictions on their movement, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Migrants stranded in Sanaa have been left destitute and without food, shelter and other basic needs. Some have been waiting for an opportunity to return home for over a year,” the statement quoted Matt Huber, IOM Yemen’s acting chief of Mission, as saying.
“We hope we can continue to ensure that migrants who would like to go home can do so in the months ahead.”
According to figures from IOM, more than 1,800 migrants stranded in Aden and Marib have departed on voluntary humanitarian return flights so far this year.
The IOM aims to support approximately 5,000 additional stranded migrants to voluntarily return home from the three locations in the coming months.
The UN agency estimated that 43,800 migrants are currently stranded throughout Yemen, many are held under the control of dangerous smuggling networks.
The vast majority hope to reach Saudi Arabia but are unable to continue their journeys.
Estimates suggest that thousands of Ethiopians are trafficked every year who hope to reach the Arabian Peninsula via Djibouti and Yemen and look for better economic opportunities in major Middle Eastern countries’ informal job markets, mainly with an aim to find informal jobs in Yemen’s northern neighbour Saudi Arabia.
Desperate Ethiopian migrants, who often attempt to cross the dangerous Red Sea route via the neighbouring nation Djibouti, regularly endure deadly incidents along the Red Sea as well as imprisonment and killings in the war-torn Yemen.