Ethiopian migrants rest before they were flown back to Ethiopia, at an IOM shelter in Aden, Yemen April 13, 2021. REUTERS
Dozens of Ethiopian migrants were flown home Tuesday from war-torn Yemen, in the first repatriation flight from the rebel-held capital Sanaa since 2019, the UN migration agency said.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that 79 people, including 19 women and 14 children, were transported to Addis Ababa "in its first voluntary humanitarian return flight from Sanaa since 2019".
Migrants travel to Yemen in the hope of reaching Saudi Arabia and Gulf states seeking work.
But they often find themselves stuck in Yemen, a country engulfed in war and in the grip of a dire humanitarian crisis.
Carmela Godeau, IOM's chief for the Middle East and North Africa, said she hoped Tuesday's flight "is the first of many from Sanaa", according to a statement.
Several migrants died in June when their boat capsized in the Bab al-Mandab strait, which separates Djibouti from Yemen and is a key passage for international trade, as well as for trafficking and illegal migration.
"Migrants in Yemen face grave risks to their safety and dignity," IOM said, adding they are "routinely impacted by smuggling and trafficking".
Yemen's conflict flared in 2014 when the Iran-allied Houthi insurgents seized the capital Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention to prop up the government the following year.
The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people and left some 80 percent of Yemenis dependent on some form of aid for survival.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online.