Support of Somaliland Coast Guard Saves 63 Stranded Ethiopian Migrants

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IOM, the UN Migration Agency Sub-Office in Hargeisa facilitated the return of 63 Ethiopian migrants who became stranded at sea for six days when their boat engine failed. The migrants left Hargeisa in several groups after they had received medical attention, food, shelter, clothing and counseling through support from IOM. 

The youngest migrant was a 15-year old and the oldest was a 48 year old.  The group departed from Djibouti, heading for Saudi Arabia via Yemen in early July. Two migrants died from hunger and thirst after supplies ran out when the boat went adrift. The migrants caught the attention of a  merchant  ship,  which  rescued  them  with  support  from  the  Berbera  regional  government  in  Somaliland and the Somaliland Coast Guard. Response and assistance to the migrants was also supported  by  the  Somaliland  National  Displacement  and  Refugee  Agency,  Hargeisa  Migrant  Response Center, Somaliland Immigration and Border Control, and the Somaliland Ministry of Health  and  Development.    Consular  services  were  provided  by  the  Ethiopian  consulate  in  Somaliland.

Speaking before her return to Ethiopia, Samhar, a 22-year old migrant, said she was shaken by the experience. “I was just waiting for death. I am happy to be alive now and my family is happy that I am alive. Now, I just want to go back to Ethiopia.”

Somaliland is both a destination and a country of origin for migrants. Migration flows in the Horn of  Africa  region  are  generally  high,  as  people,  the  youth  mainly,  attempt  to  flee  poverty  and  unemployment in search of opportunities they believe will help them improve their lives.

Still, it was unusual for a boat from Djibouti headed to Yemen to find its way to Somaliland, as Jessamy Garver-Affeldt, Head of the IOM Sub-Office in Hargeisa explained.

“These migrants took a new route, and when they drifted off course they ended up in the middle of the Gulf of Aden –a desperate place for a small boat without provisions.  We are very happy that they  were  rescued, and  we  were  able  to  support  them  through  our  Assisted  Voluntary

Return service. We know that our colleagues at IOM Ethiopia will receive them at Bole airport in Addis Ababa and see to it that they return safely to their families. “The  migrants  all  chose  to  return  to  Ethiopia  where  they  are  going  to  receive  reintegration assistance once they have reached their final destinations, following a vulnerability assessment.

“Once we help migrants return, we work to ensure that they achieve economic self-sufficiency and  that  they  are  psychologically  and  socially  stable,”  said  Julia  Hartlieb,  Senior  Regional  Programme  Coordinator in the Horn of Africa.

For more information, contact Dayib Askar, Senior Project Assistant for Migrant Protection and Assistance, at IOM Hargeisa (+252 63 444 4969).

Source: IMO