A total of 2,133 stranded migrants, including 570 children, returned home to Ethiopia from Yemen with help from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday.
The came after the migrants had left Ethiopia for what they hoped would be a life changing opportunity abroad to earn money to support their families but were instead disappointed by the lack of opportunities.
IOM says thousands are waiting to leave and are being held in a football stadium in the port city of Aden.
Two months ago, the authorities in Aden began detaining irregular migrants in large numbers, IOM estimates that over 5,000 people were held across three sites. Some of the migrants were detained for nearly two months, in a makeshift migrant detention site at the 22nd of May Stadium in Aden city.
In April, IOM began providing emergency food, water, sanitation and 24-hour health services to migrants in the stadium. It also established a diarrhoea treatment centre (DTC) in Ibn Khaldoon Hospital to help those migrants suffering from acute watery diarrhoea (AWD).
Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations of Emergencies, said that 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.
“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.
While IOM has supported over 2,000 people to return home so far, an additional 2,000 migrants are still in the stadium, many of whom are children.