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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                          

Republic of Yemen

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, reported average annual growth in the range of 3-4% from 2000 through 2007.

Yemen's economic fortunes depend mostly on declining oil resources, but the country is trying to diversify its earnings. In 2006 Yemen began an economic reform program designed to bolster non-oil sectors of the economy and foreign investment.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Yemen

Yemen is a country of origin and, to a much lesser extent, transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Yemeni children, mostly boys, are trafficked across the northern border with Saudi Arabia or to the Yemeni cities of Aden and Sana’a for forced labor, primarily as beggars, but also for domestic servitude or work in small shops. Some of these children are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in transit or once they arrive in Saudi Arabia. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009  Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Yemen.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Children in Poor Countries Need Help

Category - Forced Begging

International Herald Tribune, July 29, 2010

[accessed 4 December 2011]

[accessed 19 January 2020]

GANGS SMUGGLING YEMENI CHILDREN TO SAUDI ARABIA - Saudi and Yemeni officials said gangs in Yemen are kidnapping children and sending them to Saudi Arabia as beggars. Some families "rent their children" to these gangs for want of money. Children are mostly sent to Makkah and Madinah.

The Plight Of Human Trafficking In Yemen

Stephen Blake Illes, The Borgen Project, 19 February 2021

[accessed 3 March 2021]

Some migrants get close to reaching the Saudi Arabian border in Houthi-controlled northern Yemen but if Houthis catch them, they frequently have to remain in Yemen with very few ways of leaving. Migrants that Houthis catch experience arrest and must pay an “exit fee” for which they can then go back down south to the edge of Houthi control. At this point, they do not have money or work and thus become stuck in Yemen.

Some migrants face even worse fates if Houthis catch them. Upon arrival, many go to Yemeni detention centers where they wait for their family back home to send a ransom while they experience torture and abuse.



*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Trafficking is Booming in Yemen as the War Enters its Fifth Year

Category – Sale of Organs

Ahmed Abdulkareem, Mint Press News, MPN News, 13 Sept 2019

[accessed 14 September 2019]

Ismail, the owner of a small electronics store in Taiz, told MintPress, as he pointed to the place where one of his kidneys use to reside, “I needed money to feed my children.” Ismail hesitated while he recounted his story, worried that the shame of what he had done would reach his family. Yet thousands of Yemeni civilians who are living in abject poverty as a result of the ongoing war are willing to allow a part of themselves to be cut out and sold in order to be able to sustain their families.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Yemen

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 29 June 2021]


Although information was limited, in the past there were numerous reports of forced labor in both urban and rural areas. The Asharq al–Awsat newspaper reported in July 2019 that prominent Houthis held more than 1,800 Yemenis as slaves and servants who work in their residences and places of work.

Migrant workers and refugees were vulnerable to forced labor. For example, some Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Somalis were forced to work on khat farms (khat is a flowering plant that contains stimulants); some women and children among this population may also have been exploited in domestic servitude.


Child labor was common, including its worst forms. According to a 2013 International Labor Organization study, which had the most recent available data, more than 1.3 million children participated in the workforce.

In rural areas, family poverty and traditional practice led many children to work in subsistence farming. In urban areas, children worked in stores and workshops, sold goods, and begged on the streets. Children also worked in some industries and construction. Continued weak economic conditions forced hundreds of children to seek work in the hazardous fishery, construction, and mining sectors. Children also reportedly worked in dangerous conditions in waste dumps. According to HRW, nearly one-third of all combatants in the country were younger than 18 years of age (see section 1.g, Abuses in Internal Conflict–Child Soldiers).

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 10 May 2020]


The war has increased the risk of human trafficking, and after 2015 the government was no longer able to pursue antitrafficking efforts it had previously begun. Migrants, refugees, and the internally displaced are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Border controls and naval blockades imposed by the Saudi-led coalition have contributed to shortages of food, medicine, fuel, and other essential imports, leaving the public more exposed to famine and disease as well as coercion and deprivation by armed groups and black-market traders.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 22 April 2019]

[accessed 8 May 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 1041]

Reports indicate that, due to economic hardships, commercial sexual exploitation of children has increased over the past several years. Girls are subjected to human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation within Yemen in hotels and clubs located in Aden, Sana’a, Ta’iz, and other cities. (5) Also, there is evidence that Yemeni children, mostly boys, migrate to Sana’a, Aden, and Saudi Arabia, where they are engaged in forced labor for domestic work, begging, or work in small shops. Limited evidence points to the existence of chattel slavery, as children are sold and inherited as property in the Al Hudaydah and Al Mahwit governorates. (5) In 2017, IOM stated that 25 percent of its services in Yemen were provided to unaccompanied child migrants, mostly boys ages 14 to 17 from Ethiopia. Some of these children were subjected to human trafficking. (21).

Migrants Held at ‘Torture Camps’

Categories – Official Complicity, Torture

Human Rights Watch, Sana'a, 25 May 2014

82-page report at

Video at

[accessed 25 May 2014]

The human traffickers have constructed the camps in recent years. The traffickers pick up the migrants as they arrive by boat on the coast or “buy” them from security and military officers at checkpoints, charging the migrants fees on the promise of getting them to Saudi Arabia or other affluent Gulf Countries to seek work. In these camps, the traffickers inflict severe pain and suffering on the migrants to extort money from their relatives back home or friends already working abroad.

Except for some Yemeni government raids in 2013, the authorities have done little to stop the trafficking. Officials have more frequently warned traffickers of raids, failed to prosecute, and then released those they arrested. In some cases, they have actively helped the traffickers capture and detain migrants.

The migrants described horrific ill-treatment in the camps. Beatings were commonplace. One man described watching another man’s eyes being gouged out with a water bottle. Another said that traffickers hung him by wire wrapped around his thumbs, and tied a string with a full water bottle around his penis. Witnesses said the traffickers raped some of the women migrants they held.

One migrant ended up trapped for seven days in a traffickers’ camp. “They would tie my hands behind my back and lay me down on the ground. Then they would beat me with sticks,” Said told Human Rights Watch, showing scars across his back. “I saw the guards kick the face of one man who was on the floor, breaking his teeth.”

State of children in Yemen deteriorates, Children’s Parliament

Category - Poverty

Ashwaq Arrabyee, The Yemen Observer, Culture & Society,  Feb 3, 2009

[accessed 17 January 2011]

CHILD TRAFFICKING - The report addresses the important issue of child trafficking in Yemen, where children are exposed to many dangers and serious harm as they are sold to people in Saudi Arabia   Poverty, the absence of basic services such as education and health, lack of awareness concerning the risks of child trafficking and family dissolution have been identified as the main reason for the spread of trafficking, the report says.   The Children’s Parliament has called on the government to improve the situation of children in Yemen, to implement severe punishments for smugglers, and to conduct awareness campaigns concerning the dangers of this problem.

New study shames human traffickers

Patrick Mathangani, The Standard, May 11, 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

Countries in the Middle East have been named as the worst culprits of human trafficking.

A new report by an international trade unions’ umbrella organisation says Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen are notorious destinations for women trafficked from Kenya.

Its report, ‘Trafficking in Persons — The Eastern Africa Situation’, notes that women and children were favourite targets for well-organised trafficking rings, which operate freely for lack of solid laws against the vice.

Child Trafficking: A Growing Problem In Yemen

Category – Labor-Child

Mira Baz, Special to The Daily Star, January 11, 2005

Click [here] to connect.  The URL is not shown because of its length

[accessed 3 May 2012]

The first workshop on child trafficking in Yemen was held here over the weekend to tackle the issue of children being illegally sent to work in Saudi Arabia and to bring the issue out into the open.

New Report Addresses ... Yemen’s Suffering Kids

Category – Labor-Child

Peter Willems, Yemen Times, Issue: (806), Volume 13 , From 10 January 2005 to 12 January 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

The problems of coming up with accurate numbers include the lack of facilities at borders required to determine children being sent abroad to work, the vast border region with Saudi Arabia which makes smuggling difficult to control, and few reports coming from families. Another difficulty is trying to distinguish between children traveling with their families or relatives and those being trafficked.

Parents, Children Complicit In Human Trafficking

Mohammed Al-Attab, Yemen Observer Vol.VIII Issue 05, Sana’a, Feb 5, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

Human trafficking is an old problem in Yemen.  Ever since the 1991 Gulf Crisis, workers have been willing to try illegal means to enter wealthier neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia to find work.  However child-smuggling is a new phenomenon. The report found that most children started the journey accompanied by a direct relation, although some children traveled with other children instead.  While many children embark on the journey voluntarily and with their parents’ consent, during the journey many children were threatened and beaten; others suffered from hunger and sexual abuse.

Rude awakening

Category – Exploitation of Children

Peter Willems, Yemen Times Issue: (738), Volume 13 , From 17 May 2004 to 19 May 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

“Trafficking is the worst form of child labor in Yemen,” Thaira Shalan, Child Protection Officer at UNICEF based in Yemen, told Yemen Times. “It is horrendous.”  Children handed over by their families to traffic agents are being smuggled into Saudi Arabia and are used for begging, theft or prostitution. UNICEF has gathered information that shows many of the children who are victims of trafficking have been abused.

UNICEF discovered child trafficking in Yemen a little over a year ago. While working with children spending time in prison and child labor, it came across children who had the experience of being shipped off to Saudi Arabia.  “When we were working with street children, we discovered that there was a problem of child trafficking in the country that we were not aware of,” said Shalan. “These children started talking about their experiences. They had already been in Saudi Arabia, they were abused, and they talked to us about the horrendous conditions they went through

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 3 June 2005

[accessed 17 January 2011]

[70] The Committee is deeply concerned at the information that many children are trafficked to Saudi Arabia, often with the support of their parents, and that quite a number of them are sent back and end up in the streets of larger cities.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 17 January 2011]


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Trafficking was a relatively new phenomenon in the country, and there were no reliable statistics available. During the year there were reports of foreign Arab women, particularly Iraqis, who were possibly trafficked to the country for the purpose of prostitution. They are located primarily in the southern port city of Aden and in Sana'a. As the problem of sex trafficking was new, authorities were unable to provide information on the scope and methods of sex trafficking, but they suspected that women were brought or trafficked to the country by organized syndicates. In 2004 the government took steps to address this problem by instituting a new visa requirement for Iraqi citizens traveling to the country.

According to a local human rights NGO, it was possible that citizen women were trafficked from their homes to other regions within the country for the purposes of prostitution, including those under the age of legal consent. The same NGO also believed that such prostitution may have been organized and speculated that low-level government and security officials operated or were complicit in sex trafficking within the country.

There were no official statistics available on the number of children trafficked out of the country. Press reports claimed that children mostly from northern governorates were trafficked out of the country to work as street beggars, vendors, or domestic help in Saudi Arabia at a rate of approximately 200 children per week. Children were trafficked by individuals, other children, and loosely organized syndicates who helped them cross the border by donkey, automobile, or foot.

Government investigations revealed that extreme poverty was the primary motivation behind child trafficking and that the victims' families were almost always complicit. The traffickers were almost always well known by, if not related to, the family; parents were either paid or promised money in exchange for allowing their children to be trafficked. Many cases were also later discovered to be instances of illegal immigration.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 17 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children are trafficked out of the country to work as street beggars, domestic help, or as camel jockeys in oil rich Gulf States.  There are some reports that children are involved in armed conflicts in the country.

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