Urgent Appeal on Behalf of Ethiopians Stranded in Yemen

April 5, 2015

Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians (GARE)

Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians (GARE)The Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians (GARE) was established in response to the crisis emanating from the unexpected decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia to expel Ethiopian migrant workers. GARE campaigned vigorously and raised global awareness and gained responses from the Ethiopian and Saudi governments. In 2013, more than 160,000 migrant workers were airlifted back to Ethiopia. Sadly, with few exceptions, those who returned did not find meaningful work in their home country. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the government of Yemen estimates that of the one million refugees in the country, majority are Ethiopians.

IOM, through which the Global Alliance has channeled financial assistance in support of those in dire need in Yemen, has informed GARE that the flow of Ethiopians, including 15 and 16 year old boys and girls is on the rise. Each month, ten thousand Ethiopians enter Yemen via Djibouti in smugglers’ boats, many dying en-route. In the process, many Ethiopian migrants suffer from human rights abuses including torture, detention, starvation, abductions and forcible extortion of money by criminal gangs as well as sexual violence. IOM has been instrumental in providing lifesaving assistance such as water, medical care, sanitation, meals and nutrition to the most vulnerable Ethiopian migrants, especially young girls with children who are housed in crowded camps.

In the past few weeks with Yemen going through a full-scale civil war, the situation has changed dramatically making these refugees/migrant workers more vulnerable than ever before. Almost all human rights organizations including IOM have closed their local offices. Assistance to Ethiopian refugees/migrants is difficult in the best of times. The war puts every Ethiopian refugee/migrant worker at risk for their lives. Many countries such as Sudan have responded quickly and pulled out their citizens from Yemen. Unfortunately, the Ethiopian government has not responded to the plight of hundreds of thousands of Ethiopian citizens scattered throughout Yemen. Reuters reported last week that more than 40 Ethiopians were killed and 60 wounded when Saudi Arabia’s aircraft bombed rebels near the camps where Ethiopian refugees were sheltered by UNHCR.

Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians is extremely concerned that thousands of Ethiopian citizens will be killed or wounded as the war continues to escalate and expand.

We, therefore, urge:

– the Ethiopian government to airlift these stranded Ethiopian citizens back to their country immediately.

– the UNHCR, to urgently transfer the Ethiopian refugees to safer locations.

-the International Red Cross, the International Red Crescent and other humanitarian agencies to respond to the plight of Ethiopian migrant workers/refugees at the earliest opportunity.

– the government of Saudi Arabia to desist from indiscriminate bombing of refugee camps and support emergency assistance efforts to help Ethiopian refugees who have become victims of its air raids in Yemen.

– the United States government and its allies to use their influence to urge restraint on the part of Saudi Arabia and the Arab coalition forces not to target innocent civilians.

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians recognizes that the grim socio-economic and political situation in Ethiopia is driving thousands of young girls and boys from their homeland each year. In spite of the grave dangers to their physical safety en-route and upon arrival in Yemen they still continue to flee from Ethiopia. The current humanitarian crisis Ethiopian migrant workers and refugees face in Yemen is beyond their control. We plead with the global community to respond to this dire emergency before more infants, children, girls and boys perish through no fault of their own.

Finally, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians calls upon all Ethiopians and members of civilized society to join us in demanding that the Ethiopian government respond immediately to the plight of its citizens in Yemen. GARE will do everything to raise awareness about the unfolding tragedy and the dire circumstances thousands of Ethiopian citizens stranded in Yemen are facing. We urge all Ethiopians around the world to join GARE in its effort to mitigate the pending humanitarian emergency.

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