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UN agency demands access to mostly Ethiopian migrant survivors of fire

UN agency demands access to mostly Ethiopian migrant survivors of fire
File 2018 in Yemen's rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeida shows a ship flying the flags of Yemen and the International Organisation for Migration   -  
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ABDO HYDER/AFP or licensors

African migrants

A United Nations agency has demanded "urgent humanitarian access" to migrants - mostly Ethiopians - in Yemen who have been wounded in a deadly fire at an overcrowded detention center in Sanaa.

The International Organization for Migration could not confirm the number of deaths but it said more than 170 people were treated for injuries, and many others are still in critical condition.

“As many migrants are in a critical condition, meeting their health needs must be an urgent priority," IOM Middle East and North Africa director Carmela Godeau said in a statement.

"We are facing challenges accessing the injured due to an increased security presence in the hospitals."

The fire was in a hangar near the main "overcrowded" building, which then housed nearly 900 migrants, mainly Ethiopian, according to IOM.

Yemen is a transit country for tens of thousands of migrants travelling between the Horn of Africa and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The country has been embroiled in a bloody power struggle since 2014 between its government, supported by Saudi Arabia, and Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa and most of the north.

The Houthis were regularly accused of preventing or complicating the work of NGOs in the territories they control.