Ethiopian refugees stranded in Yemen

2010-11-17 08:57

Geneva - About 1 000 Ethiopians are stranded near the Saudi border in Yemen without food, water or shelter, a world migration group said on Tuesday, appealing for $1m to help them.

"They're migrants who crossed the Gulf of Aden at great risk and were trying to reach Saudi Arabia," International Organisation for Migration spokesperson Jean Philippe Chauzy said.

The group is among 2 000 Ethiopians in Yemen's northern border town of Haradh, many of whom are no longer able to cross the border clandestinely due to tighter security, according to the IOM.

"We need about $1m to continue emergency evacuations, repatriations," Chauzy told journalists.

Yemen is a major transit route for east Africans fleeing across the sea and trying to reach the Middle East, and many of those who reach Haradh are dehydrated, malnourished and in bad health.

About 320 000 Shiite Huthi rebels are also displaced in the area following a truce with the government in Sanaa in February.

Yemen launched an offensive against a Huthi uprising in August 2009 and the rebels later clashed with Saudi forces

Chauzy said attempts in Ethiopia to try to convince people about the dangers of the perilous sea crossing and other obstacles on their intended journey only had a limited impact.