The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday re-appealed for 58.5 million U.S. dollars to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to over 1 million vulnerable migrants on the "Eastern Route," which runs from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and Gulf nations.
The United Nations migration agency said the lack of funding is resulting in a severe cut in access to humanitarian assistance and protection for migrants, including help provided in migrant response centers along the route.
"The re-appeal for funds is urgent and will help to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable migrants in the region and across the Africa continent," the IOM said in a statement issued in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
In February, the IOM and 47 humanitarian and development partners appealed for 84.2 million dollars but so far only 2 million dollars has been provided.
According to the IOM, the "Eastern Route" is one of the most dangerous and complex human migratory routes in Africa and the world.
Hundreds of thousands of people primarily from Ethiopia and Somalia travel the route each year in the hope of reaching Gulf countries to find work and face extreme life-threatening dangers including starvation, hunger, and dehydration.
The migrants, the IOM said, are often targeted by people smugglers and traffickers, and can face kidnap, arbitrary arrest, detention, and forced recruitment into warring groups, particularly in Yemen.
The re-appeal for funding was made during a briefing held by the IOM's Regional Office in Kenya.
"The Eastern Route is grossly underfunded beyond levels experienced in previous years, as donors are yet to come through with funding for the 2023 appeal, and there has been a deprioritization of the Eastern Route by other donors," IOM Deputy Regional Director Justin MacDermott said.
In 2022, the number of female migrants on the route rose to 106,700, and the number of children to 14,900, double the figures from the previous year.
These numbers are higher than the number of migrants arriving from the whole of the African continent along the Central, Eastern, and Western Mediterranean and Atlantic Routes combined, according to the IOM.
Humanitarian responses to the needs of migrants from Somalia are also being impacted.
Masood Ahmadi, program manager for IOM Somalia, said Somalia, "as a country of origin, transit, and to a lesser extent, destination," faces a funding gap for migrant protection and assistance, requiring urgent intervention.
"Without funding, crucial services and support will be severely impacted, increasing risks for migrants," he said.
Migrants on the "Eastern Route" must pass through Yemen, which has been at war for the last nine years, to reach the Gulf and often to return home.
According to the IOM, more than 44,000 migrants are either trapped or stranded in Yemen.
Ethiopia, where most migrants on the "Eastern Route" come from, is one of the countries most impacted by the lack of funding.
Pekka Marjamaki, program officer of IOM Ethiopia, said funding challenges are endangering support for Ethiopian migrants returning from the "Eastern Route."
"Urgent action is needed to address limited resources for shelter, reintegration, and basic needs," Marjamaki said, adding that the IOM "needs increased funding to ensure well-being and sustainable solutions for Ethiopian migrants."