Violent Clashes among Ethiopian Immigrants in Yemen Claims 10 Lives
Aden, Yemen, became the backdrop for a grim incident as Yemeni security authorities launched an operation to quell a violent clash among Ethiopian immigrants, resulting in ten fatalities and dozens injured. The aftermath has triggered humanitarian concerns and raised questions about the circumstances surrounding this tragic event.
Response and Camp Relocation
In response to the violent confrontations, Yemeni authorities swiftly initiated a campaign to restore order. Reports from Yemeni sources indicate that migrants involved in the clashes are being transferred to temporary camps located in Mansoura and Sheikh Othman. However, despite the intervention by security forces, the situation remains precarious, with police vehicles ferrying migrants to a gathering point near the Basateen camp in the Sheikh Othman District.
Silence Surrounding the Root Causes
One perplexing aspect of this incident is the conspicuous silence from both Yemeni police and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) regarding the factors that led to the outbreak of violent confrontations. The lack of official statements has left observers seeking answers to the critical question of what ignited this deadly clash.
A potential clue to understanding the confrontation emerged through Arafat Jibril Barki, president of Oromo Human Rights. Barki pointed to ethnic tensions as the primary catalyst for the violent confrontations. He explained that the Ethiopian authorities refused entry to migrants from the Amhara and Tigray nationalities due to security concerns in those regions. Consequently, Ethiopia restricted the acceptance of nationals to those of the Oromo ethnicity.
The Tragic Sequence of Events
The sequence of events leading to the clash began last Thursday outside the office of the International Organization for Migration. Frustrated migrants, seeking a return to their homeland, found themselves entangled in restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian government. Ethiopia had requested the United Nations not to allow the return of migrants from the Amhara and Tigray ethnicities. In response, those prohibited from traveling lashed out, attacking the international immigration representative and a security guard.
Escalation and Fatalities
Arafat Jibril reported that the protesters even tore up a travel ticket issued to an Oromo national. The situation escalated further when one of the migrants stabbed an employee. In response, the security guard intervened and shot the attacker, tragically resulting in his death. These initial clashes then expanded to other areas, leading to a grim toll: ten lives lost, including six from the Amhara ethnicity, one from Tigray, and three from the Oromo ethnicity.
The rapid spread of news regarding the exclusion of the Amhara and Tigray ethnicities from the return process triggered intense discussions among migrants. These discussions soon evolved into violent clashes, necessitating intervention by Yemeni security forces to quell the turmoil.
Yemen’s Response to the Crisis
The Yemeni authorities have embarked on a campaign to address the challenges posed by illegal immigrants, engaging in discussions with international organizations to find a solution. Government sources have confirmed that relocating migrants to the Kharaz camp in Lahj is the most viable option, given the complexities associated with the internal situation in Ethiopia.
The Kharaz Camp Dilemma
Officials have acknowledged that the largest Kharaz camp in Yemen faces significant deficiencies in terms of services. Despite these limitations, it remains the sole facility capable of accommodating the influx of migrants, which has exceeded 86,000 over the past few months.
The grim reality for many migrants is a deep sense of betrayal. Thousands of them desired to return to their homeland after discovering they had been deceived by smugglers who brought them to a nation embroiled in war, rather than fulfilling their promise of transporting them to the Gulf region.
The IOM’s Role and Challenges
The International Organization for Migration had suspended its voluntary return program for thousands of migrants due to a lack of funding. However, it has recently reactivated this program to provide much-needed support to stranded migrants seeking a safer return. UN estimates paint a stark picture, indicating that the number of African immigrants in Yemen exceeds 200,000, with approximately 43,000 individuals stranded in dire humanitarian conditions. Many are unable to continue their journey onward, return to their countries of origin, or find suitable living conditions.
Continued Migration from the Horn of Africa
Despite the challenges and risks, thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa continue to make the perilous journey to Yemen. Their determination to seek refuge or better opportunities persists, even amid the current crisis. Approximately 11,000 immigrants have managed to return to their home countries as part of the voluntary return program initiated by the International Organization for Migration. The organization remains committed to supporting stranded migrants and ensuring their safe return amidst the ongoing challenges they face.
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