By Henry Beglinger
The Eastern Corridor, used by migrants to transit between countries in the Horn of Africa to those in the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the busiest and most dangerous routes used by migrant populations in the world.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people use the route, often in irregular patterns, and assisted by smugglers towards hopes of a better life. According to ACAPS, an independent organization aimed at helping humanitarian workers, “Since November 2020, more than 50,000 Ethiopians – or an average of 6,500 per month – have attempted to migrate to Saudi Arabia”.
"The organization is lobbying for 84 million US dollars in order to alleviate what they say is a humanitarian disaster waiting to happen"
While the vast majority of migrants come from Ethiopia, a staggering 87 percent, they also come from Somalia, Djibouti, and South Sudan. The goal of these migrants is to reach Saudi Arabia, where they can find jobs to provide for their families back home.
In 2021, there were, “89 migrant deaths or disappearances… due to hazardous transportation, illness, harsh environmental conditions, drowning at sea and violence. Many more deaths and disappearances go unreported”. These deaths, both reported and not have quickly brought the route to the attention of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The organization is lobbying for 84 million US dollars in order to alleviate what they say is a humanitarian disaster waiting to happen. Dubbed “The Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen”, the plan will provide immediate relief to the thousands of people stranded and trapped along the route as well as building up the capacities of various involved governments to handle the flow of migrants.
An interesting and expressed goal of the plan is to support migrants who voluntarily want to return back to their home countries. Whether they have decided the route is not worth it due to unforeseen dangers or simply a change of heart, this caveat is essential in ensuring migrants who want to go home safely can, and will not be ostracized for doing so.
Once properly funded, the Regional Migrant Response Plan will be able to immediately assist hundreds of thousands of people, and more importantly set up a foundation to ensure people who take this route will be protected in the years to come.
According to a quarterly update published in December of 2022, around 262,000 people had been helped since its implementation in 2020, with a budget of only $36 million of the requested $84 million. If the IOM and its partners can assist that many people with that little money, it should be clear that the global community should be pledging their full and continued support to the IOM in alleviating this crisis.
The requested funding should be swiftly met if it means helping hundreds of thousands of people, either in their journey for a better life or their safe return home.