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IOM urges donors to assist Ethiopian migrants in Yemen

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

December 25, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has asked for USD$2.6 million to repatriate thousands of Ethiopians stranded in Yemen.

The organisation had been assisting to thousands of Ethiopian migrants in Yemen to return home and assisted their reintegration during the past year. However, the IOM says that such support is now limited to only few due to shortage of funds.

IOM said in a statement that there is a "growing concern and fear" over the fate of thousands of Ethiopian migrants stranded for several months in northern Yemen in desperate conditions, as funds run out to assist the most vulnerable among them.

Some 150 Ethiopians arrived in Addis Ababa from Yemen on Saturday with the support of the Ethiopian government and the IOM but thousands more are desperately waiting to return.

The repatriation operation for the Ethiopian migrants was possible after some emergency stop-gap funding from Saudi Arabia and Japan.

But with many more left behind and in critical conditions a speedy response to the appeal is needed otherwise thousands of migrants will be left at a “great and unacceptable danger”.

The Saudi and Japanese funding will allow the repatriation of 1,000 travel-ready migrants. The organisation is planning to repatriate over 800 migrants in the next couple of weeks.

Under different smuggling networks, every year, tens of thousands of Ethiopians risk their life making a very dangerous journey across the horn of Africa via the Gulf of Aden to Yemen and on to Saudi Arabia hoping to find lucrative jobs.

Illegal migrants from East Africa use Yemen as a major transit point taking advantage of the political instability of the country.

According to IOM, some 18,300 Ethiopian migrants have been registered in the northern Yemeni town of Haradh on the border with Saudi Arabia as most of them were forced back by Saudi Arabia due their illegal status.

(ST)

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