forced march ", a document on one of the main migration routes of East Africa

Charles Emptaz and Olivier Jobard have filmed for nearly a month, from the Ethiopian border to Yemen at war, young Oromo Ethiopians who want to go to Saudi Arabia.

Time to Reading 2 min.


Young Oromo Ethiopians walk in the desert of Djibouti towards the Red Sea.
Young Oromo Ethiopians walk in the desert of Djibouti towards the Red Sea. OLIVIER JOBARD / ARTE

The road begins at the border between Ethiopia and Djibouti, an expanse of stony mountains in the midst of which a line of young men, girls and boys, are crushed by the sun. Some are children, perhaps 12 years old, young Ethiopians who have left destitution in their country, a plastic bag for any luggage. They hope to reach Saudi Arabia, 2,000 km away, and find work.

A trip that Charles Emptaz, director, and Olivier Jobard, photographer, did with these migrants. To produce this report, produced by Arte, the two French filmed them for nearly a month, from Galafi, on the Ethiopian border, to Yemen at war, documenting one of the most important migratory routes in Africa. from the east.

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Most of them are Oromo, the largest community in Ethiopia, long marginalized, driven on the road by misery. As this teenager explains that once he arrives in Saudi Arabia, he will be able to earn enough to build a solid house " for (her) mum ". The Oromo are not the only Ethiopians to try their luck. Tigrayans and Amhara also migrate, but by other networks and vehicles. The Oromo, they make the road on foot.

Exposed to local mafias

After crossing the Djiboutian desert, which attracts thousands of deaths, exhaustion and heat each year, the migrants are taken to the port of Obock, where they are embarked at night on overcrowded dhow. Scary crossing of six to ten hours for young people, some of whom had never seen the sea.

The smugglers here are very young inhabitants of the region. "Kids who live all their family with the 20 euros of the passage. The migratory route is an economic lung for devastated areas. A phenomenon of competition of distress, misery and struggle, because it is a struggle for survival on both sides ", recalls the director.

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On the other side of the Gulf of Aden, a continuous ballet of vans picks up passengers at night. There, in this country at war, these oromo Ethiopians, without resources, are particularly exposed to local mafias. Some say they were held in homes for months, tortured until their family agreed to pay a ransom. "In Yemen, as in Libya, we see war logics that clash with those of migration", explains Charles Emptaz. Migrants must find their way between the front lines. Above all, the economy of migration has taken a new growth, in the light of everyone's knowledge. "Since the war in Yemen, our business has grown. The business has grown. The government can not fight us as before. They want a better life, so we benefit, " explains a trafficker.

Those who reach Aden, the big city of southern Yemen, often find themselves on the street. "In Yemen, we are bursting with fear and heat," loose a migrant. Even those who reach the border with Saudi Arabia are not out of the woods, as shown by a man shot in the leg during an attempted pass. Those who fail will start again. "Either we succeed or we die", admits one of them.

"Yemen: forced march " a report by Charles Emptaz and Olivier Jobard (Fr, 2019, 24 min). Then available in replay on


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