IOM Yemen: Monthly Migration Overview, November 2019


Despite the ongoing conflict and resulting crisis, people continue to migrate to and through Yemen in the hope of finding a better life. The number of people arriving in Yemen increased significantly in 2019 when compared with arrivals in 2018.

A combination of factors, including lack of employment opportunities, changes in the environment adversely affecting living conditions, and human rights abuses have driven hundreds of thousands of people from the Horn of Africa to migrate over the past decade. Many travel by boat over the Red Sea and then by land through Yemen, most of them headed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Migratory flows from the Horn of Africa are mixed in nature, comprised mostly of migrant workers but also of refugees and asylum-seekers2 . Although the conflict in Yemen has not had a deterrent effect on flows, it has had an impact on the routes through the country that migrants use to get to KSA. Before 2015, migrants often arrived at the western coast around Al Hudaydah but due to the increased level of active conflict in that area, the route was pushed to Yemen’s southern coastline .

Prior to reaching Yemen, migrants are exposed to many challenges including exploitation and abuse, extreme thirst and hunger, as well as lack of shelter and medical assistance. In most cases, migrants also have to seek out smugglers and criminal groups to facilitate their journey and very few people travelling on this route are in possession of valid travel documents . Throughout their journey to Yemen, migrants find themselves in dangerous situations, including during the crossing from Djibouti or Somalia to Yemen in inadequate boats. Upon arrival and during their travel within Yemen, migrants pass through and often get trapped in areas of active conflict where they are at severe risk of being seriously injured or killed. Over 50 people were reported to have lost their lives during two incidents in Sa’ada governorate on 20 and 27 November respectively . Ethiopian nationals were reported to be among the causalities and those injured, as the location hit in both incidents was a market close the KSA border which is frequented by migrants waiting to cross. These were the first such incidents near a border crossing point where migrants were reportedly killed since July 2019.

Apart from the dangers linked to active fighting, while making their way towards KSA, many migrants are subject to violence and torture, sexual abuse, abductions for ransom, arrest and detention in inhumane conditions. To be able to continue their journey, migrants often resort to working in farming and other sectors where they may also be at risk of exploitation and forced labour.

Source: International Organization for Migration