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IOM Yemen Quarterly Migration Overview (July – September 2022)

In Yemen, where millions continue to grapple with one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, migrants remain among the most vulnerable persons in the country. From July to September 2022, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix recorded over 15,700 migrants arriving to the shores of Yemen, bringing the total arrivals to more than 42,000 thus far in 2022. Among the tens of thousands of migrants arriving, mainly from Ethiopia and Somalia, many continue to face severe protection risks such as abduction, torture, detention and exploitation throughout every step of their difficult journey to neighbouring Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). During the reporting period, and increase in the number of migrants approaching IOM Migrant Response Points (MRPs) in both Aden and Ma’rib for assistance was observed, indicating the severe situation migrants perpetually face throughout the country.
The primary migration routes through the country remain under the grip of ruthless smugglers and traffickers, a reality increasingly indicated by protection monitoring reports. Smugglers in particular maintain strong networks preying on migrant’s vulnerable situations, where extortion, forced/unpaid labour and rape among other forms of abuse are utilized to keep migrants trapped in inhumane conditions. In transit areas such as Ma’rib, smugglers have an undeniable presence and considerable influence over movements in and out of the governorate, onwards to the north of Yemen toward the border with KSA. On the other hand, in areas near landing points, such as Ras Al Ara (Lahj governorate), migrants routinely report physical abuse and detention upon arrival where they are extorted for additional funds before they can be released and continue their journeys. Often, photos of their abuse are sent to family members in their countries of origin in order to provoke them to send money to secure release.
Sexual abuse perpetrated by smugglers against male and female migrants, including children, has also been reported at all transit points in Yemen from the southern coast to the northern border. Further exacerbating the situation, a power struggle between both Yemeni and Ethiopian smugglers has emerged, with smugglers resorting to violence against one another in order to take control of the migrants’ movements – where migrants bear the brutal brunt of consequences.
Yet, these exploitative practices are reportedly common not only while migrants are in transit in Yemen but also while awaiting return. Those who resort to return home independently (due to conditions and lack of available assistance) via the perilous boat journey used to arrive, are routinely forced to work for an indefinite period of time, contained in inadequate shelters and deprived of food, water and other basic needs.
Women and girls continue to be disproportionately at risk of violations, as they remain a high value ‘commodity’ for smugglers and traffickers and as such are becoming increasingly hard to reach by humanitarian and protection actors. During the reporting period, several instances of this reality were observed. Smugglers and traffickers in Al Hasoon (in Ma’rib governorate) have reportedly begun preventing the entry of female migrants to locations where they can receive assistance. A significant number of female migrants were also reportedly relocated from Ma’rib to Shabwah, where there are few to no services available, and where smugglers can contain and exploit them in smuggling dens without risk of ‘losing’ them to migrant response actors. In addition, during the quarter, partners reported over 130 female migrants were abducted by smugglers from camps in Shabwah and subjected to rape, sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence. The psychological and physical trauma that survivors of these incidents sustain continue to remain unaddressed due to limited access and resources.
The situation along border areas remains precarious with violations perpetrated against migrants continuously reported.
Unverified reports suggest 345 migrants were impacted by violence at the KSA and Omani borders during the reporting period. Further, the forced transfer of migrants from the north to the south of Yemen continues to be reported, as well as forced return from neighboring countries of both Yemeni and non-Yemeni migrants.