GENEVA – The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties (GCRL) expresses its concern about the deteriorating conditions of African migrants in Yemen, in light of the Corona pandemic, and calls for an urgent intervention to end the ongoing tragedy that has been repeated for several years.
According to the International Organization for Migration, migrants continue to arrive in the country, although numbers are significantly lower in 2020 thanks to COVID-19-related border restrictions. Just over 35,000 migrants have made it to Yemen so far this year.
Thousands of migrants are stranded in Yemen, after failing to reach Saudi Arabia, and live in extremely difficult conditions without basic needs including health care and protection from the new Corona epidemic.
Information collected by the Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties in relation to the suffering of African migrants reveals the number of violations they are subjected to during the journey in search of decent living conditions. These violations include murder, liquidations, thefts, harassment, and exploitation, as well as forcing some of them to engage in armed actions or to settle in places of armed conflict in Yemen that has been going on for years.
Last October, at least 10 African migrants died off the coast of Djibouti while returning from Yemen, according to the International Organization for Migration, which indicated that the victims’ bodies “washed up onshore.
Hundreds of migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia were forced to return to Djibouti after failing to reach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia due to COVID-19 movement restrictions, border closures, and extreme danger along this migratory route. They arrived hungry, tired, and in need of medical assistance after making the treacherous boat journey back across the Gulf of Aden, and then walking to the town of Obock through the Djiboutian desert where temperatures reach 40C [104F]. According to IOM, an additional 1,239 Ethiopian migrants have been stranded for months across Djibouti, unable to reach Yemen or return home.
Available data show that the African migrants stranded in Yemen or Djibouti face difficult conditions that lack the lowest levels of protection amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus which would be a real health disaster for them.
Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties condemns the stigmatization, bullying, and abuse African migrants have been facing since Sanaa announced that the first case of coronavirus infection was a Somali refugee. Migrants in Yemen were subjected to physical and verbal abuse, forced quarantine, denial of access to health services, restriction of movement, and forcible transfer to conflict zones and deserts, leaving them without food, water, or basic services.
GCRL also urges quick intervention to protect migrants, ensure a decent and safe life for them as well as protection and prevention measures from the Corona epidemic.
The Council calls for an international investigation into the systematic violations to which they are exposed, including the mass killings of some migrants and their burial in mass graves, as well as the harassment, exploitation, and extortion they are exposed to during the cruel migration journey.