Risk and Protection Research: Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen
Researching Ethiopian migrants in Yemen to gain a better understanding of their protection risks, challenges and needs
Increase protection and assistance to Ethiopian migrants in Yemen.
Published DRC/RMMS research report with recommendations
Previously un-researched and un-documented
Context and background:
Over 100,000 asylum seekers, refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa arrived on the south Yemen Arabian Sea and Red Sea coasts in 2011. It is estimated that at least 70,000 of these new arrivals were Ethiopian nationals, with a majority likely harboring an ambition of traveling onwards to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Only 16,689 Ethiopians were registered as asylum seekers in 2011 but their status as asylum seekers and/or refugees is precarious and evidence indicates that Yemen offers refugees status on a discriminatory basis, dis-favouring Ethiopians. In effect it is very difficult for Ethiopians to be granted refugee status. Those that do not register as asylum seekers attempt to find work in Yemen itself or move north to the Saudi border ‘under the radar’ as undocumented migrants. Recent reports suggest new arrivals of Somalis and especially Ethiopians along the coast are increasingly targeted by criminals intent on extorting money from migrants (through their relatives). Kidnapping, robbery, torture, sexual violence and extortion of new arrivals is a relatively new phenomenon that needs to be better understood and documented.
Meanwhile thousands of Ethiopians are reportedly stranded in Haradh, at the northwestern Yemen-Saudi Arabia border. They consist of those who have arrived in the area without resources to move on, those who have been (sometimes repeatedly) deported back to Yemen, by Saudi authorities as illegal foreigners and others either escaped or released by smugglers and traffickers after various ordeals. Other Ethiopians find work in Yemen, predominantly in the informal sector and without official sanction. Women often find work as domestic labourers while men reportedly find work in khat plantations or other agricultural work. With no comprehensive data on the number of migrants that manage to cross the border with Saudi Arabia and in view of the tightened border controls by Saudi authorities, it is suspected that a substantial number of migrants remain in Yemen. What remains unclear, however, is their social, economic and protection situation in the country. The proposed research will thus seek to answer the following questions:
- How many Ethiopians are living in Yemen?
- What is their legal status (refugee, registered at embassy, illegal, awaiting AVR)? Where are they?
- What is their social economic profile? What kind of work are they employed in (by gender/age)?
- What protection challenges do those that find work face?
- What are the characteristics and details of the recent phenomenon of kidnapping, torture, extortion etc (i.e. trafficking and criminality) facing Ethiopian migrants in Yemen? Who are the perpetrators, what are the dynamics, how do they act with impunity, what methods are used etc?
- What are their intentions as relates to local integration or return to their country of origin? (i.e. circular/seasonal migration or transit to another location for permanent settlement?)
- How can this constituency be contacted for awareness-raising purposes? Names and contact details of Ethiopian interest organizations or contact persons.
- Profile the “hidden” Ethiopian migrants in Yemen: how many, where, where from, why?
- Establish a profile of other, non-Somali migrants.
- Provide qualitative information on their social and economic situation in Yemen, giving particular focus on any protection concerns they face.
- Specifically investigate characteristics of trafficking and violent criminality facing irregular migrants in Yemen.
- Identify contact points and civil society organization working with Ethiopians in Yemen.
- Develop action-oriented recommendations.