Friday, April 20, 2012

With No Way Home, Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen Face Growing Health Challenges

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 20, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM is concerned about...

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 20, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM is concerned about the wellbeing of thousands of Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen's northwest region of Haradh, near the border with Saudi Arabia, following an ongoing outbreak of dengue fever which started last month.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by a virus. Its symptoms include fever, headaches, muscle joints pains, skin rash and spontaneous bleeding. Depending on individual immune system response, the disease can lead to death, especially in babies and children.

Although no deaths has been reported so far in Haradh, the outbreak is significantly adding to the health problems experienced by the estimated 12,000.stranded migrants, who include an estimated 3,000 Ethiopians registered with IOM wishing return home.

Some 17 cases have already been reported at IOM's Haradh clinic this month, five of whom are IOM staff. The clinic, which is located in IOM's Migrant Response Centre, provides emergency care, assisted medical referrals and psychosocial aid to between 70-100 migrants a day.

The Migrant Response Centre, which was set up in 2010 to house 150 vulnerable migrants, now houses over 300. IOM, in collaboration with WHO and local health ministry officials, is carrying out periodic fumigation in and around the building to kill the mosquitos.

Most of the migrants arrive in Haradh hungry, sick and exhausted from their long walk from the Horn of Africa in the hope of reaching Saudi Arabia. Tightened Saudi border controls now make this impossible and the migrants often find themselves stranded in Haradh without adequate shelter, food or water.

To date IOM has helped over 7,000 Ethiopian migrants to return home from Haradh, less than 10 percent of the estimated 82,000 migrants who entered Yemen over the past 18 months.