The “Ethiopian Exodus” that Floods Yemen

Ethiopian teenage migrants in Yemen
Political chaos in Yemen helped the country’s smugglers to thrive using the thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa who are desperate to use the country as a gateway to Saudi Arabia. In September 2014, for instance, the RMMS reported 12,768 arrivals predominantly from Ethiopia, representing the single largest monthly influx on record. Many of the migrants in the new spike are the same ones that were deported to Ethiopia by the Saudis.

By Sam B.,

THE Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) is again reporting a dramatic increase in Ethiopians fleeing their country from hunger, poverty and deplorable human rights abuses to Yemen. The RMMS core Steering Committee and founding agencies are UNHCR, IOM, DRC, Intersos and the Yemen Mixed Migration Task Force.

The Economist (the magazine) writes:

Several thousand Ethiopians sleep rough in Bossaso’s dirt, like animals. They are sustained by Muslim alms: a free meal each day, paid for by Bossaso traders. Some of the Ethiopians arrive in town feral with hunger. They have to be beaten back with cudgels when the meal is served. The hope of all of them is to be illegally trafficked across the sea to Yemen. They slip out of town in the moonlight, cramming into metal skiffs that are death traps. Many drown in the crossing: the boat sinks or they are tossed overboard by traffickers when Yemeni patrols approach. Some of the men interviewed in Bossaso for this story have since drowned in this way. Refugee agencies say only a few of those who survive will find jobs in Saudi Arabia. The rest will drift, disappear or die young.”

RMMS calls this phenomenon the “Ethiopian Exodus”. Between September and November 2014 alone RMMS says over 26,000 Ethiopians have crossed the Red Sea to Yemen alone, on their way to Saudi Arabia. Many drowning in the attempt.

In November RMMS reported:

An estimated 9,420 Ethiopians made their way to Yemen in November 2014, 19% higher than arrivals in October 2014, and 366% higher than the number of Ethiopians that arrived in November 2013.”

And in September it stated:

An estimated 9,443 Ethiopians made their way to Yemen in September 2014, 15% higher than arrivals in August 2014, and 149% more than the number of Ethiopians that arrived in September 2013.”

RMMS estimated “82,680 migrants/refugees arrived in Yemen between January and November” 2014 and that “approximately 85% of the migrants” were those of “Ethiopian origin, while the rest were Somali”. RMMS further underscored that Ethiopian and Somalis are “maintaining the approximate arrival ratio between the two groups that has existed for the last 3 years.”

In fact starting in 2008 Ethiopian migrants arrivals to Yemen have overtaken Somalis, by large margin. The following graphic is compiled by UNHCR shows the breakdown between Somali and Ethiopian migrants in Yemen.