300 migrants pushed into Yemen sea; 56 dead

Lucy Bush
August 11, 2017

The International Organization for Migration says it is searching for smugglers who it says forced 120 Somalis and Ethiopians into the sea as their vessel approached the Yemeni coast, causing more than 50 teenage migrants to drown.

A further 55 were missing, presumed dead, after they were pushed from another boat a day later in what the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) warned "may be the start of a new trend".

Refugees and migrants hoping to reach oil-rich Gulf countries - many of them teenagers - are increasingly traversing a unsafe sea route to Yemen, despite the conflict raging there.

The dead were buried by those who survived.

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The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen, IOM reported. More than 30,000 of them are under the age of 18 and from Somalia or Ethiopia.

The victims had paid smugglers to help them cross the Gulf of Aden from the drought-stricken Horn of Africa to Yemen, itself teetering on the edge of starvation and in the midst of a war.

It added in a statement that the average age of the Somali and Ethiopian passengers on the boat appeared to have been 16. "People pay this small amount of money, which is actually affordable for them, but on the journey the smugglers rape, torture, and abuse them". Yemen is now going through a conflict and humanitarian crisis but the migrants go there to try to reach Europe or the Gulf states. Most of the people on the boat were from Ethiopia and Somalia.

The survivors told the migration agency that the smuggler had already "returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more refugees to bring to Yemen on the same route".

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"What it comes down to is that they know the risks, but they've got this pitch that has been sold to them by these salesmen, these absolute criminals".

At least 22 migrants remained missing, the IOM said.

"They have some family, or others, who've succeeded and reported back home that it's easy to find a job".

Twenty-five people were being treated for injuries on a beach on Yemen's Red Sea coast, the United Nations migration agency told AFP. "So, the migrants had a choice", she said.

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The other route used by migrants to reach Europe is through the Mediterranean Sea.

Other reports by Info About Network

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