6 migrants dead, 13 remain missing off Yemen

Pauline Gross
August 12, 2017

At least five migrants drowned and 50 went missing on Thursday when smugglers forced 180 Africans off a boat bound for Yemen, a day after a similar incident left 50 dead, the International Organization for Migration said.

Smugglers were reportedly pushing migrants into the sea away from the mainland so as to avoid encountering possibly armed groups on shore in the war-torn country - they were then going back to pick up more migrants.

IOM teams, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, found the bodies of 29 migrants in shallow graves along the Shabwa coast.

The migrants were escaping the political instability and violence plaguing their nations.

IOM estimates some 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa headed for Yemen since the start of 2017.

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"The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea when he saw some "authority types" near the coast", Mr de Boeck said earlier.

The trip across the waters from Somalia to Yemen is fraught with peril, with Yemen engulfed in war. In March, Somalia's government blamed the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen for an attack on a boat that killed at least 42 Somali refugees off Yemen's coast.

The journey through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is particularly unsafe during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean.

Survivors managed to make their way to Shabwa province, along Yemen's Arabian Sea coastline, which is now under the control of Yemeni troops backed by the United States. The IOM said the smuggler pushed 120 Ethiopians and Somalis into the sea. 84 migrants (in addition to the 57) left the beach before IOM arrived.

He said 2,405 people have died or disappeared during their attempts to cross the Mediterranean and more than 265 people have died or were missing while traveling across the Sahara trying to reach the sea. "Countries experiencing conflict or crisis like Yemen need greater support to reinforce law enforcement and humanitarian border management with the aim of protecting vulnerable migrants like these 16 year old kids", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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