by WorldTribune Staff, August 11, 2017
More than 50 people drowned and many more were missing after smugglers threw 300 African migrants into the Arabian Sea off of Yemen.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) told AFP that human traffickers forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the rough seas off Yemen on Aug. 9, leaving at least 50 dead and 22 missing.
IOM teams, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, found the bodies of 29 migrants in shallow graves along the coast of Shabwa. They had been buried by survivors, the IOM said.
“The smugglers deliberately pushed the migrants into the waters since they feared that they would be arrested by the authorities once they reached the shore,” an IOM emergency officer in Aden, where the Yemeni government is based, told AFP.
Laurent de Boeck, IOM’s Yemen mission head, said the smuggling boat’s crew immediately returned to Somalia to pick up more migrants headed to Yemen on the same route.
On Aug. 10, at least six migrants drowned after smugglers forced 180 Ethiopians off their boat and into the Arabian Sea. Thirteen people remained unaccounted for. The majority of the migrants appeared to be teenagers and young adults, the IOM said.
The survivors made their way to Yemen’s southern province of Shabwa.
War-ravaged Yemen continues to draw migrants who are attempting to reach prosperous Gulf countries further north, according to the IOM.
The IOM estimates some 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa for Yemen since the start of 2017, more than half of them under the age of 18.