UN urges Saudi Arabia to halt Yemen migrant deportations

UN urges Saudi Arabia to halt Yemen migrant deportations
2 min read
09 May, 2018
Thousands of migrants have been deported by Saudi authorities to war-torn Yemen, with the UN urging Riyadh to halt the deportations.
Around 700,000 Yemenis live in Saudi Arabia [AFP]

Saudi Arabia should stop the deportation of migrants to Yemen, the UN said on Wednesday, with thousands already sent back to the war-torn country.

The UN fears that 700,000 Yemenis could be sent back to the country, where fighting, bombing, disease, and hunger has already killed around 10,000 civilians since March 2015, when Saudi Arabia entered the war.

Around 17,000 Yemenis have already been expelled from Saudi Arabia, the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM) told Reuters.

"IOM can categorically say that between January and now 17,000 Yemenis have been turned back, simply because of their immigration status in Saudi Arabia," Mohammed Abdiker, director of operations and emergencies at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

"But our line is you cannot return people to a country like Yemen, particularly when you are bombing it yourself," Abdiker said. 

"So is there any way the Saudis can waive this for the Yemenis until there is a country to go back to?"

Around 700,000 Yemenis work in Saudi Arabia, many in farming and construction.

Saudi Arabia is waging a war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, where the militia has taken over much of the country and forced the government to flee to Riyadh or the southern city of Aden.

From the other side of the Horn of Africa, thousands of Africans are also crossing into Yemen, where they hope to make it to wealthier Gulf states for work. 

Around 7,000 migrants from Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea cross the waters to Yemen where they attempt to reach Saudia Arabia illegally.

Many are held in detention centres by local authorities, such as the Houthis, where conditions are unbearable.

One Houthi-run centre for deportees in Sanaa is designed for 100 people but already holds 470. 

They complain of being treated as "animals" at the detention centres and the vast majority want to return home, the IOS said.

UAE-backed fighters in Yemen have also been accused of raping and abusing detained African migrants.