Some 3000 migrants are detained in temporary detention sites in Yemen, many of whom are fasting for Ramadan. (Photo: Olivia Headon/IOM)

Delayed Flights Leaving Yemen Put Ethiopians at Risk

ADDIS ABEBA – A delayed flights leaving Yemen has put Migrants majority of them Ethiopia at risk, said United Nations migration agency on Wednesday.

Over 2,300 Ethiopian migrants detained in adverse conditions in Aden, were due to return home with the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) support this week.

The eight-day operation, set to begin last Saturday, was delayed by rescinded flight permissions, IOM said in a statement.

Since mid-April, authorities in Aden, Abyan, and Lahj governorates have detained irregular migrants – predominantly from Ethiopia – in makeshift detention sites without basic services, according to the migration agency.

As part of its support package to stranded, vulnerable migrants, IOM offers return assistance from countries in crisis under its Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) program.

In Aden’s 22nd of May Stadium, IOM screened and registered 2,315 Ethiopian migrants, including 150 women and 470 children, who urgently want to return home from the conflict zone.

“IOM is offering return assistance to help protect migrants detained in Aden and we need the support of the international community to help us to get these migrants home,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations and Emergencies in Geneva.

The agency said it obtained approval from the relevant authorities to begin the return movement to Addis Abeba on Saturday (25/05), with one flight planned each day until 2 June.

On Friday, the Coalition and the Government of Yemen postponed the departure of the first VHR flight until at least Wednesday (29/05).

This five-day delay puts into question how many of the eight flights will be able to depart, said IOM after the ban.

“The flight delays are putting thousands of migrants’ lives at further risk. We are urging the leaders of the Coalition and the Government of Yemen to urgently approve these flights, ensuring that all who need to go home do so with safety and dignity.”