Stranded Ethiopians in Yemen Return Home

ADDIS ABABA – Some 280 Ethiopians returned home on 10-11 July, after being facing traumatic experiences in Yemen.

These new returnees are among a large group of Ethiopian migrants from Yemen who have been taken home as part of the UN’s Voluntary Humanitarian Return operation that began in May 2019.

“A prominent challenge we are facing is the limited funding for programs to sustainably reintegrate returnees and tackle the root causes of irregular migration in hotspot areas,” explained Malambo Moonga, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ethiopia Head of Migration Management.

He also stressed that “the limited employment and livelihood opportunities at home make irregular migration to the Middle East through war-torn Yemen a viable option for vulnerable youth in Ethiopia.”

On ‘facing difficulty’

Ahmed* is one of the fortunate ones who has returned in good health.

Describing his ordeal, the teenager said that he witnessed torture and extortion, which remained strongly imprinted on his mind. “I never thought I would face this much difficulty,” he said.

When the smugglers told him about job opportunities, he thought it sounded like a dream and left home without his parent’s permission.

However, the hardships he suffered eventually made him change his mind about continuing with the journey.

In the end, his family took a loan from relatives abroad to pay 30,000 Birr (US $1,000) required for his release, according to IOM.

* Names of the returnees were changed to protect their privacy