Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

Up to 50 migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen, UN says

Up to 50 migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen, UN says

As many as 50 Somali and Ethiopian migrants and refugees drowned off Yemen's coast after a smuggler threw more than 120 of them overboard from their boat into torrential waters, the United Nations said Wednesday.

At least 29 migrants have died and 22 others missing in the Arabian sea after having been forced by their traffickers to jump to the sea off the coast of Yemen, reported Wednesday the worldwide Organization for migration (IOM).

Survivors from the boat journey reported they were forced into the sea off the coast of Yemen after the trafficker in charge of their journey thought he spotted authorities.

Some of the survivors had already left the beach before receiving assistance, while 22 migrants are still missing, according to the IOM.

The migrants, who included some young women, were headed to war-torn Yemen in order to seek opportunities in Gulf countries.

Laurent de Boeck, the IOM chief of mission in Yemen, called the incident "shocking and inhumane". They also told the migration agency that the smuggler went back to Somalia to pick up more migrants. "Too many young people pay smugglers with false hopes of a better future", he lamented. The migrants are vulnerable to abuse by armed trafficking rings, many of them believed to be connected to the armed groups involved in the war. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under 18 and from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.

The conflict itself is a deadly risk.

The IOM estimates that since January, 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen. In Ethiopia, deadly anti-government protests and a 10-month state of emergency have forced some to choose to migrate.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of worldwide agencies.

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