Ethiopians’ pain and suffering in the hands of smugglers 



IOM Bole Addis Ababa International Airport: After being stranded in Yemen, a group of Ethiopian migrants return to Addis Ababa with the support of the International Organization for Migration. (July 2019)

Over the past 50 days, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has helped 2,742 Ethiopians return home.

280 of those were returned home on 10-11 July this year after coming face to face with traumatic experiences in Yemen.

IOM reported that many such Ethiopian migrants have made the treacherous journey while being detained in war-torn Yemen without basic services.

They also faced a myriad of challenges in accessing protection and assistance.

“A prominent challenge we are facing is the limited funding for programmes to sustainably reintegrate returnees and tackle the root causes of irregular migration in hotspot areas,” explained Malambo Moonga, 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.”

One of the returnees Ahmed (not his real name for his privacy and protection) said: “I never thought I would face this much difficulty.”

He painted a picture of the real situation in Yemen saying he witnessed torture and extortion, which remained strongly imprinted on his mind.

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

The teenager, after horrendous and painful events, he finally surrendered to his fate and changed 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.

He is among a large group of Ethiopian migrants from Yemen who have been taken home as part of the IOM Voluntary Humanitarian Return operation that began in May 2019.

Separately IOM Ethiopia’s Migration Management Unit is planning to raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration.

It also provides available livelihood options at home through the Community Conversation programme.

Many young Ethiopians continue to be lured by smugglers telling them how easy their lives will be transformed by migrating to the Middle East.


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