COVID-19 halts African migrants’ journeys

Migrations from the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries dropped by 73 percent last year because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Data released by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) indicates that the number dropped from 138 213 in 2019 to 37 537 in 2020.

Despite reduced arrivals in 2020, risks increased with more detention, exploitation and forced transfers.

These findings by IOM are significant, especially because African migration through Yemen to the Gulf of Arabia has been high for the past four years.

The trend has been despite security risks in Yemen, which migrants from the region must cross to reach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Forced returns from Saudi Arabia were also significantly reduced, passing from nearly 121 000 Ethiopian migrants in 2019 to 37 000 in 2020.

On the downside, migrants, including internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in the region are unable to access medical treatment for COVID-19 and personal protective equipment (PPEs).

They are also at risk of discrimination, stigma and xenophobia.

Moreover, COVID-19 border closures, which have left thousands of workers stranded, left many people facing exploitation from smugglers when trying to get home.

As of September 2020, some 3 000 migrants were stranded within the East and Horn of Africa.

This is in addition to tens of thousands of other migrants from the Horn of Africa stranded in Yemen.

The Horn of Africa comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.

SOURCE: CAJ News Africa


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