Yemen

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

Not Available

Detained asylum seekers

2019

126

Detained children

2013

Not Available

Long-term centres

2019

2,470

New asylum applications

2019

Overview

Although it has been devastated by famine and an ongoing civil war, Yemen serves as an important transit country for African migrants and refugees seeking to make it to Saudi Arabia or other Gulf state. But there is little available information about its immigration detention practices. One source of information has been the International Organization for Migration (IOM), whose Displacement Tracking Matrix has identified detention sites in the country. Detainees are predominantly Ethiopians or Somalians who have crossed the treacherous Gulf of Aden as part of their migration journeys, only to arrive in a country wracked by conflict and massive human suffering and deprivation.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

Related Reading

04 August 2020

New York Times, “African Migrants in Yemen Scapegoated for Coronavirus Outbreak,” 28 June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/28/world/middleeast/coronavirus-yemen-african-migrants.html
New York Times, “African Migrants in Yemen Scapegoated for Coronavirus Outbreak,” 28 June 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/28/world/middleeast/coronavirus-yemen-african-migrants.html

Although it has been devastated by ongoing civil war and famine, Yemen has continued to serve as an important migrant and refugee transit country--with many people often enduring torture, rape, and extortion, as well crossfire and airstrikes. In 2019, the IOM estimated that some 138,000 migrants departed from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in the hope of finding jobs as housekeepers, servants, and construction workers in oil-rich neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

During the pandemic however, thousands of migrants have found themselves stranded in the country, witnessing growing anti-migrant sentiment and stigmatised as carriers of the virus. Unable to leave the country, more than 14,000 (the majority of whom are Ethiopians) have been rounded and forcibly moved away from urban centres (although it remains unclear whether these round-ups were conducted by Iran-allied Houthi rebels or Saudi-backed government forces). Many are reported to have been abandoned in empty buildings or forced to live on the streets, while others have been confined in detention facilities where they face overcrowding, lack of access to medical services, and inadequate food provision.

Others have reportedly been shot by Houthi militia in an attempt to force migrants out of the area they control--with some forced across the border into Saudi Arabia, where they have also subsequently faced arrest, detention, and deportation (see 14 April update on Saudi Arabia). At one point in April, humanitarian organisations estimated that some 20,000 migrants had been abandoned in “slaughter valleys” along the Yemen-Saudi border, with no food, water, or aid.


Last updated: May 2019

Migrants in Yemen Languish in Detention as Ramadan Begins

From: International Organization for Migration
Date: 7 May 2019

Aden - Some 3,000 migrants continue to be held in two temporary detention sites in Yemen's Aden and Abyan governorates. Among those detained are Ethiopian nationals, many practicing Muslims, who are embarking on thirty days of Ramadan fasting while detained.  

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been providing clean water and emergency food at the 22nd of May Stadium in Aden where nearly 2,500 migrants are detained. 

On 21 April, authorities in Yemen began detaining nearly 5,000 irregular migrants in two sports stadiums and a military camp in the Aden, Abyan and Lahj governorates. The detainees predominately are Ethiopians, who entered Yemen to seek livelihoods and opportunities on the Arabian Peninsula.   

On Friday (03/05), IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) teams confirmed that 2,473 migrants remain under detention in Aden’s 22nd May Stadium. Of those, the DTM determined 873 are children.  

Since last week’s headcount, more people have been brought to that site. An estimated 500 migrants are also being held in a second sports stadium in Abyan. 

At the stadium in Aden, IOM is combatting the spread of communicable disease by providing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and health services. Between 26 April and 5 May, IOM has conducted over 1,800 health consultations and rehabilitated 30 latrines. 

In recent days, more than 1,400 people detained at the military camp in Lahj reportedly were released.  IOM is making efforts to confirm the locations and wellbeing of all migrants released in Lahj, particularly because some had been suffering from acute watery diarrhea (AWD).  

At Lahj’s Ibn Khaldoon Hospital, IOM is treating more than 70 former detainees with AWD in its newly-opened diarrhea treatment centre. Tragically, since Wednesday (01/05), 14 migrants have perished from the illness

Twenty-three-year-old Abdi* comes from a farming family in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. As Ramadan commences, he wishes he could go home, or anywhere rather than stay in detention in the sports stadium in Aden. 

“I wanted to come to an Arabian country to make my life better than my parents’, but when I arrived here [in Yemen] they caught me and brought me to this place,” said Abdi, who left his home just over a month ago without telling his parents.  

Starting his journey with only 2,000 birr [USD 70], he eventually he arrived in Djibouti, where he called his parents explaining he needed funds, some 11,000 birr [USD 380], to continue his journey. His parents sold a cow. He said he knew he would perish in the desert without a smuggler to help him complete this “hard journey.” 

*Name changed to protect identity   

IOM remains extremely concerned for the people being held in inhumane conditions in Aden and Abyan. Alongside humanitarian partners, IOM is providing lifesaving services, while engaging with authorities to advocate for the release of those detained.  

Thousands of migrants are stranded in other locations throughout Yemen. From Sana'a starting this past Monday, IOM intends to move a total of 327 Ethiopian migrants to Addis Ababa, under IOM’s voluntary humanitarian return (VHR).  

For more information, please contact Olivia Headon at IOM Yemen, Tel: +353833022648, +967730552233, +967730552233, Email: oheadon@iom.int 

-----

Migrants Die While Detained in Inhumane Conditions in Yemen

United Nations Information Centre
2 May 2019 – Aden
 
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is alarmed by reports of migrants dying of preventable illnesses, being shot and suffering other inhumane treatment in makeshift detention centres in Yemen, now in its fifth year of conflict.

IOM is monitoring the conditions of some 5,000 migrants from the Horn of Africa held across three sites –-two sports stadiums and a military camp–in Yemen’s Aden, Lahj and Abyan governorates.

IOM learned yesterday (01/05) that at least eight migrants died from complications related to acute watery diarrhea (AWD) at the Ibn Khaldoon Hospital in Lahj governorate. Those migrants—predominantly Ethiopian—had been held at a military camp in Lahj where more than 1,400 people are detained. Authorities at the camp report they have detected at least 200 AWD cases. IOM is establishing a diarrhea treatment centre at Ibn Khaldoon Hospital, which is currently struggling to treat 53 AWD cases, including eight severe cases.

This morning, 14 migrants with signs of AWD were brought to Aden’s 22nd of May stadium where IOM is providing critical life saving assistance. IOM’s health team, who has carried out over 1,000 health consultations at the site since 26 April, acted fast to ensure the patients were evacuated to a nearby hospital.

In Geneva, Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s Director of Operations and Emergencies said, “I am deeply saddened by the deaths of these eight migrants, who were among the thousands of migrants being held in deplorable conditions across Yemen. We have decried this policy to the authorities, urging them to take a humane approach to irregular migration.”

IOM’s team in Aden became aware of the mass arrest and detention of thousands of migrants on 21 April and their detention in cramped buildings, not fit for human inhabitation. Abdiker noted these migrants, “at best, have only limited access to basic services or protection.”

On Tuesday (30/04), guards fired on migrants detained at the Aden sports stadium, two of whom suffered gunshot wounds, leaving a teenage boy likely paralyzed for life. That, Abdiker said, “demonstrates the inability of authorities to care for the expanding detained population as well as the immediate need to have a dedicated civilian authority humanely managing these sites. Our teams could see that without ensuring immediate access to sufficient food, clean water, safe sanitation and medical attention, a catastrophe was waiting to unfold.”

Abdiker added: “IOM stands ready to support Yemen and other regional partners to identify sustainable responses to irregular migration, which do not involve the shortsighted abuse of vulnerable migrants and fully respects international law.”

“I am greatly concerned that this dire situation will further deteriorate,” he concluded. “Our team on the ground has been making strides with local advocacy among the different levels of government. However, it is time to see these words turned into action that puts an end to this abuse before more innocent lives are lost.”

For more information please contact Olivia Headon in Aden. Tel: +967 730 552 233. Email: Oheadon@iom.int

 

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS

Total number of immigration detainees by year
Not Available
2019
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
5,000
2019
Top nationalities of detainees
Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti
2019
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Not Available
2019
Number of detained asylum seekers
Not Available
2019
Total number of detained minors
Not Available
2019
126
2013
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Not Available
2019
Number of detained accompanied minors
Not Available
2019
Number of detained stateless persons
Not Available
2019
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
Not Available
2019
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Not Available
2019
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Not Available
2019
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Not Available
2019
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Not Available
2019
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Not Available
2019
Number of immigration offices
Not Available
2019
Number of transit facilities
Not Available
2019
Number of criminal facilities
Not Available
2019
Number of ad hoc facilities
Not Available
2019
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
Not Available
2019
Number of deportations/forced returns only
Not Available
2019
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Not Available
2019
Criminal prison population
14,000
2013
Percentage of foreign prisoners
3.2
2013
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
53
2013
Population
29,800,000
2020
26,832,000
2015
International migrants
385,628
2019
344,100
2015
314,700
2013
International migrants as a percentage of the population
1.3
2015
1.3
2013
Refugees
268,503
2019
264,369
2018
270,919
2017
269,763
2016
263,047
2015
257,645
2014
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
9.82
2016
9.84
2014
9.89
2013
Total number of new asylum applications
2,470
2019
4,309
2016
6,266
2013
Refugee recognition rate
46.7
2014
47.8
2013
Stateless persons
0
2016
0
2014
Estimated number of undocumented migrants

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
1,408
2014
Remittances to the country
3,455
2014
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
1,164.2
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
160 (Low)
2015
Remittances from the country
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
Detention for deterrence
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
Immigration Index Score
World Bank Rule of Law Index
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Muslim law
2017
Common law
2017
Civil law
2017
Customary law
2017
Constitutional guarantees?
Core pieces of national legislation
Additional legislation
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Immigration-status-related grounds
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Provision of basic procedural standards
Types of non-custodial measures
Impact of alternatives
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Mandatory detention
Expedited/fast track removal
Re-entry ban

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
International treaty reservations
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Regional legal instruments
Regional treaty reservations
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Custodial authority
()
Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Apprehending authorities
Detention Facility Management
Formally designated detention estate?
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Authorized monitoring institutions
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Does NHRI carry out visits?
Does NHRI have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NHRI publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Does NPM have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Do NGOs carry out visits?
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?
Do parliamentary organs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
Do internal inspection agencies (IIAs) carry out visits?
Do IIAs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do IIAs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Types of privatisation/outsourcing
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Estimated annual budget for detention operations
Estimated annual budgets for particular detention-related activities
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)
Estimated annual budget for non-custodial measures (in USD)
Estimated costs of non-custodial measures (in USD)
Does the country receive external sources of funding?
Description of foreign assistance