At least 60 people were killed due to a fire at an immigrant holding facility in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, a Houthi official said on Tuesday.
The fire, which broke out on Sunday, has also injured more than 100 people, Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying to the media.
Overcrowding and chaos at the facility, in addition to the fire, caused heavy casualties, said the official, adding that victims included both African migrants and facility staff.
The Houthi group has formed a commission to investigate the incident, he said.
According to the official, the facility is for holding migrants who entered the country “illegally” before the procedure of deportation starts.
In a statement issued on Monday evening, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirmed that the fire and called for “urgent humanitarian access to migrants injured”.
“We are facing challenges accessing the injured due to an increased security presence in the hospitals. Humanitarians and health workers must be given access to support the treatment of those affected by the fire,” it added.
According to the IOM, Yemen remains a transit country for tens of thousands of migrants travelling between the Horn of Africa and Saudi Arabia despite years of war.
The Organization estimated that the number of migrants arriving in Yemen fell from more than 138,000 in 2019 to just more than 37,500 in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yemen has been mired in civil war since late 2014 when Houthi rebels seized control of several northern provinces and forced the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support Hadi’s government.