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ACAPS Thematic report: The Eastern Migration Route: From Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia - risks and humanitarian needs

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The Eastern Migration Route is one of the main migration routes globally, running from the Horn of Africa to Saudi Arabia. It is among the busiest maritime migration routes; reports on 2019 movements indicate an average of 11,500 people boarding every month (IOM 14/02/2020), with 63% of the migratory movement tracked in the Horn of Africa region (IOM 05/05/2020).

Between 2017 and early 2020, at least 400,000 Ethiopians reached the Arabian Peninsula through this road (Africa Renewal 22/05/2020). Despite the high risks associated with irregular migration, Ethiopians still find Saudi Arabia an escape from dire living conditions because employment opportunities are available there (HRW 15/08/2019). The number of migrants attempting the journey has decreased since the first half of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the border with Djibouti. As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and key drivers of migration remain unsolved, this number is expected to gradually increase. Since November 2020, more than 50,000 Ethiopians – or an average of 6,500 per month – have attempted to migrate to Saudi Arabia (DTM accessed 06/09/2021)