Fewer African migrants and refugees coming to Yemen

Published on 25 February 2014 in News
Ali Saeed (author)

Ali Saeed


hide
Migrants in Haradh District, Hajja Governorate north of Yemen, seeking to cross the border into Saudi Arabia for better economic opportunities. (Photo credit: UNHCR-Yemen)

Migrants in Haradh District, Hajja Governorate north of Yemen, seeking to cross the border into Saudi Arabia for better economic opportunities. (Photo credit: UNHCR-Yemen)

SANA'A, Feb 24—There has been a massive reduction in the number of African migrants and refugees entering Yemen this past year, according to a Yemeni official.
 
According to the International Organization for Migration, 107,532 African migrants and refugees entered Yemen in 2012. In 2013, this number fell to about 53,000.
 
The continued construction of a wall on the Saudi-Yemeni border, along with new Saudi labor regulations on foreign workers in the kingdom contributed to the lower number of African migrants and refugees making their way to Yemen.

“Increased outreach on the risks of migration in countries of origin, changes in labor laws in Saudi Arabia that have made it more difficult for undocumented workers to find employment there, and efforts within Yemen to deter irregular migration[has contributed to a reduction of migrants coming to Yemen],” according to a report released this month by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
 
Yemen is often a transit country for migrants, who seek wealthier nations with better job opportunities for their destination.

Ethiopia, a country of origin for many African migrants and refugees who make the trek to Yemen, has tightened enforcement on illegal border crossings in 2013 and has more aggressively gone after traffickers, according to Abdullah Al-Zurqa, the head of the department of deportation at the Migration and Passport Authority.
 
The actions by the Ethiopian government were taken after an official Ethiopian delegation visited Yemen in July, Al-Zurqa said.
 
In March 2013, the Saudi government adopted a new amendment to Article 39 of the Saudi labor law that now stipulates that foreigners cannot work for anyone other than their original sponsors to the country.  As a result, thousands of Yemeni workers have been deported from the country.
 
"The decrease would help reduce the burden on Yemen. Yet, we should redouble efforts to address the issues of migrants and refugees who continue to arrive in large numbers,” said Johannes Van Der Klaauw, a Yemen UNHCR representative.

“The continuous flow from the Horn of Africa to Yemen adds [an] extra burden on Yemen's already limited resources and has become a regional issue that can be addressed only within a regional context,” said Van Der Klaauw.

In Dec. 2013, 244 migrants and refugees arrived on Yemen’s shores, an 82 percent decrease from Nov. 2013 and a 96 per cent decrease from Dec. 2012, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Task Force Secretariat.