The head of the UN’s International Organization for Migration says that the number of women and children migrating from the Horn of Africa to the Gulf countries has increased significantly.
The number of women and children migrating from the Horn of Africa to the Gulf countries via Yemen has increased significantly and is a cause for concern, according to the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations (UN) agency. .
The treacherous journey from Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti via Yemen, called the Eastern Migration Route, has seen a 64 percent increase in the past year, with people seeking a better life and more women and children traveling alone, IOM Director-General Antonio Vitorino said. for the Associated Press.
Climate change is the driver of increased migration, he said.
In the past, women and children often gave up on the dangerous journey through the desert, mostly on foot. Before, men would leave their families and travel in hopes of finding work and sending money home.
“The pressure is mounting” as the number of migrants increases, said Vitorino, who was in Kenya to launch an $84 million appeal to support more than a million migrants using the route through Yemen.
Desperate migrants are vulnerable to criminal gangs along the route and need protection from rape, violence, traffickers and smugglers, he said.
Some of the migrants are unaware of the dangers – including the war in Yemen – and the UN’s migration agency must improve awareness of the dangers, he said. For migrants who do decide to make the journey, the organization should offer basic health care and other services, and in some cases return them to their countries of origin, he said.
“Last year we voluntarily repatriated 2,700 migrants to Ethiopia and upon arrival we provided them with post-arrival assistance to support them to return to their regions,” Vitorino said.
Migration of people from West Africa via Libya to Europe is also on the rise, and the position of these migrants, especially those detained in conflict-affected Libya, is a global concern, he said.
“We know where the official detention centers are and we have access to them, not all the time, never alone, but under the supervision of security guards. But we have access to help,” Vitorino said.
But the UN organization does not have access to unofficial detention centers, which are of particular concern, as there are reports of widespread abuses there, he said.
Libya’s political instability hampers the political cooperation needed to dismantle unofficial detention centers, he added.
The IOM is trying to include more migrants in voluntary return programs to reduce the number of those in detention, he said. It is difficult because the number of migrants who want to return is much higher than the available flights from Libya, he said.
Vitorino said he hopes the factors leading to increased migration, such as climate change and conflict, can be addressed to reduce the number of people who are displaced from their homes.
He emphasized the need for migrants to follow legal migration routes, adding that although the process is complicated and difficult, it cannot be compared to the life-threatening conditions on illegal routes.