Thu, 07 Jul 2022

ADDIS ABABA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday disclosed the resumption of its lifesaving voluntary humanitarian return operations of stranded Ethiopian migrants from war-torn Yemen.

The UN migration agency said its return operations aims to assist at least 6,750 Ethiopian migrants departing from the conflict-affected country in the coming months.

More than 600 Ethiopian migrants, including 60 unaccompanied migrant children, have so far arrived in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa from Yemen on the first three flights this month, it was noted.

"Additional flights are scheduled to depart from Yemen to Ethiopia in the coming weeks, but greater support is urgently needed to help all those wishing to return," the IOM said.

Noting that thousands of stranded Ethiopian migrants in Yemen have expressed their wish to voluntarily return to Ethiopia, the IOM appealed for 7.5 million U.S. dollars to provide them with safe, dignified and voluntary return assistance, as well as health and protection support.

The UN migration agency arranges the flights, offers pre-departure counseling, secures travel documents and liaises with authorities to ensure safe passage and transit.

"Migrants transiting through or stranded in Yemen are some of those most affected by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country," an IOM statement quoted Christa Rottensteiner, IOM Yemen's Chief of Mission, as saying.

"They endure life-threatening situations and arrive daily at IOM's response centers after experiencing inhumane treatment such as arbitrary detention, forced transfers, exploitation and torture," Rottensteiner added.

Rottensteiner stressed that the voluntary humanitarian return is the only option for safe return from Yemen and is a lifeline for thousands of stranded migrants.

Desperate Ethiopian migrants often cross the dangerous Gulf of Aden route, hoping to reach the Middle East via war-torn Yemen. They are mainly aiming at reaching Yemen's northern neighbor Saudi Arabia.

The IOM is also working closely with partners to assist the Ethiopian government as the country continues to receive thousands of Ethiopians deported from Saudi Arabia.

Figures from the IOM show that more than 25,000 Ethiopian migrants have returned from Saudi Arabia since the end of March following an agreement between the governments of Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia.

In the coming months, a further 75,000 Ethiopian migrants are expected to return as part of the current operation.

"A coordinated multi-sectoral response is critical to ensure returnees receive essential services such as medical care, food, shelter, and psychosocial support as well as specialized protection services to alleviate their immediate needs, risks and vulnerabilities and enable their return home in safety and dignity," the IOM said.

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