There may be a sliver of a silver lining for Ethiopian migrants in Djibouti, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations agency for refugees and migrants.
More of them want to go home.
The IOM Djibouti staff says that a tragic accident in January near Godoria that left 52 people dead when overloaded migrant boats capsized has helped to convince at least some of the migrants to turn back. The 16 survivors of that accident, all of them Ethiopian, returned to the IOM migrant center in Obock. The accident was one of many that have claimed at least 199 lives off the coast of Obock since 2014.
“I was on the beach when the others got into the boat that capsized. My trip was cancelled because the sea was too rough,” said Bayan Mohamed Youssouf, 20, of Ethiopia. “I do not want to travel anymore. There were a lot of deaths. I prefer to go home.”
More than 1,300 migrants requested assistance for a voluntary return to their homes in February, according to Lalini Veeerassamy of IOM Djibouti. The number for just one month compares with the nearly 3,400 migrants requesting return from Djibouti in all of 2018.
Many of the migrants who travel on the Horn of Africa routes are trying to reach Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, particularly Saudi Arabia. Roughly a third of the 400,000 migrants during the first six months of 2018 planned a GCC destination, often without fully understanding the magnitude of the crisis in Yemen or the other complications faced during difficult and dangerous sea crossings from the Horn of Africa.