ADDIS ABEBA – A flight chartered by the UN migration agency with 96 migrants came to Ethiopia from the war-torn Yemen on Thursday, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) .
This movement was the 18th flight from Aden to Addis Abeba under IOM’s voluntary humanitarian return program since 28 May, helping a total of 2,133 stranded migrants, including 570 children, return home.
On 21 April, the authorities in Aden began detaining irregular migrants in large numbers.
At the peak – between 27 April to 03 May – the UN migration agency estimates that over 5,000 people were held across three sites.
The majority of the returning migrants were detained, many for nearly two months, in a makeshift migrant detention site at the 22nd of May Stadium in Aden city.
Over 2,000 migrants are still in the stadium, many of whom are children, IOM said in a statement.
In the coming week, the agency said it will support the voluntary return of the remaining children.
“IOM provides voluntary humanitarian return assistance to detained migrants, as a last resort, and does not support the further detention of migrants, especially children, women and vulnerable groups,” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations of Emergencies.
“All governments are obliged to provide protection for all people within their borders, regardless of immigration status. This protection is extended to detained migrants, including access to food, water, sanitation, health services and safe accommodation,” he added.
Despite the conflict in Yemen, migrants seeking opportunities in Gulf countries continue to make the treacherous journey by land and sea to the Arabian Peninsula.
All along the route, migrants face many challenges in accessing protection and assistance.