03/09/2021, 10.13
YEMEN - UN
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Sana’a, fire in a migrant centre: at least 30 dead and 90 injured

The large majority held in the structure, run by Houthi rebels, were Ethiopian migrants. According to IOM activists, the centre was overcrowded and housed at least 900 people, including 350 in the sector most affected by the flames. The fire, the causes of which remain unknown, broke out on March 7, coinciding with the air strikes of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

Sana’a (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A devastating fire in a migrant centre in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, has caused dozens of deaths and injuries. The fire took place on 7 March last, but to date there is still no definitive data on the dead and injured: the International Organization for Migration (Iom) speaks of at least eight confirmed victims, but some United Nations officials present in the area have stated that the at least 30 are dead. And the number could increase.

The facility accommodates a large majority of migrants from Ethiopia. At the moment, the reasons that triggered the devastating fire are not yet clear. However, according to some local sources, during the hours in which the flames developed, heavy bombing was underway led by the Saudi-led Arab coalition - already in the past accused of targeting civilians, including children - on the Yemeni capital, controlled by the Houthi rebels.

According to UN sources, there were at least 900 migrants in the centre run by the Houthi rebels, including 350 in the sector most affected by the flames. IOM activists report at least 90 seriously injured, some of them life threatening. " “While the cause of the fire is still unconfirmed, its impact is clearly horrific,” the agency’s regional director Carmela Godeau said. “Our thoughts are with the families of those affected and the community as a whole. Now, the migrant community in Sanaa needs to be given the space to respectfully mourn and bury their dead in a dignified manner. IOM and partners are standing ready to provide additional medical assistance and to support family tracing efforts for the dead and injured.”

in a statement demanding humanitarian access as well as the release of migrants from detention in the country, the UN agency said personnel “were present at the site when the fire broke out in a hangar next to the main building”, adding that “nearly 900 migrants, predominantly Ethiopian, were in the overcrowded holding facility at the time of the fire” and “more than 350 were in the hangar area”.

Every year tens of thousands of migrants attempt to make the trip to oil-rich Gulf countries, with some 138,000 migrants embarked on the arduous journey in 2019 - a figure that decreased drastically to 37,000 last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Over 2,500 migrants reached Yemen from Djibouti in January, according to IOM. Upon arrival migrants are vulnerable to abuse by armed trafficking rings, many of them believed to be connected to the armed groups involved in the war. Earlier this month, at least 20 migrants were dead after smugglers threw 80 overboard during a voyage from Djibouti in East Africa to Yemen.

 

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