CAIRO: A fire broke out in a detention centre for migrants in Yemen’s capital on Sunday, killing eight people and injuring more than 170 others, the UN migration agency said.

The International Organisation for Migration said the cause of the fire at the detention centre, south of the city of Sanaa, was not immediately clear. Over 90 wounded migrants were in serious condition.

The detention centre is run by the Houthi rebels, who have controlled the capital since the outbreak of Yemen’s conflict more than six years ago. The rebels said civil defence teams managed to extinguish the fire and that investigations were ongoing to determine its cause.

A UN official said the fire broke out in a hangar close to the main building of the detention centre, which was housing more than 700 migrants.

Most of the migrants were arrested in the northern province of Saada, while trying to cross into Saudi Arabia, said the official.

But this is just one of the many dangers that migrants have faced during the past six years of the crisis in Yemen, said Carmela Godeau, IOM’s regional director for MENA region.

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite the ongoing conflict. Tens of thousands of migrants, desperate to find jobs as housekeepers, servants and construction workers, try to make their way through Yemen every year to the oil-rich Gulf countries.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2021

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