During the final days of 2017, IOM, the UN Migration Agency succeeded in completing two movements of stranded Somalis and Ethiopians out of Yemen, despite immense security challenges and difficult sea conditions. Two boats were deployed, one headed to Aden to evacuate Somali refugees, while the other went to Hudaydah to evacuate Ethiopians, who were considered especially vulnerable due to the dangers of rising violence near that port city.
The 27 December operation was the 19th assisted voluntary humanitarian return conducted by IOM out of the city of Aden sea port, taking 138 Somali men, women and children home in cooperation with UNHCR. With this final movement in 2017, IOM Yemen helped a total of 2,241 Somali refugees through its sub-office in Aden. The total number of Ethiopian migrants helped return home through Hudaydah seaport via Djibouti reached 746 people during 2017.
It took several attempts to move a second group, some 71 Ethiopians, all occurring within days of the Somali movement. Complications beyond the control of IOM delayed the movement until 31 December but at 4:30 PM on New Year’s Eve, an IOM boat successfully left for Djibouti.
The next morning (1/01/2018), maritime authorities informed IOM that heavy waves near Djibouti would prevent the continuation of the voyage, forcing IOM’s vessel to return to international waters near Yemen. Later that afternoon, authorities informed IOM its boat could set back on its course, ending what had become a long ordeal.