Fleeing Yemen by Boat: Abdo’s Journey Back to UK

Born in the United Kingdom to a Yemeni father and a British mother, Aldo moved to Aden, Yemen with his father when he was 7 years old. He was living in Aden when the Yemen conflict broke out in March. © IOM 2015

By Craig Murphy

Abdo was born in the United Kingdom to a Yemeni father and a British mother.  He moved to Aden with his father when he was 7 years.

For twenty years Abdo split his time between Yemen and the UK and he holds dual nationality.

He eventually settled in Aden where he was living when the Yemen conflict broke out in March.

“There were big guns and bombs, and our house used to shake. I was terrified.” Abdo describes the situation in Aden at the time of his escape. “There is no electricity, no water, no fuel and food is not available or very expensive.”

For now the only functioning airport in Yemen is in Sana’a with a limited number of flights. Without fuel and many road blocks it is virtually impossible for many to travel.

Huge swathes of Yemen remain cutoff with a large part of the population unable to move within the country because of insecurity and a lack of fuel.

At the moment, fleeing from Yemen by boat is the only option for people with access to port cities in the South.

Abdo was only able to get on the boat with his wife.

“Everyone was running everywhere, my family is scattered,” he says.  “Now there are a lot of checkpoints, and when you drive through them you don’t know if you are going to live or die.”

As British nationals, Abdo and his wife will continue their journey to the United Kingdom. The UK has a consular team deployed at the Djibouti Sea Port to assist their citizens with transit accommodation and air transport.

IOM is working closely with the Djiboutian immigration authorities and liaising with several consular teams to respond to the situation in Djibouti. Additionally, IOM provides support to the Third Country Nationals arriving without diplomatic representation in Djibouti.

Abdo says, “I plan on going to the United Kingdom to try to calm down and process what has happened.”


T. Craig Murphy is an IOM Regional Project Coordinator in the Horn of Africa