Ethiopian, Somali migrants forced into sea off Yemen

11 August, 2017, 00:41 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • UN International Organization for Migration
IOM staff assist Somali and Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers

Survivors, thought to number about 70, told the IOM that smugglers had pushed them into the sea after seeing "authority types" on the coast.

Around 50 Somali and Ethiopian youths were 'purposefully drowned' by a trafficker who passed over 120 passengers in the sea near Yemen, reports Reuters. "But others were actually buried by their friends on the beaches", de Boeck told Al-Jazeera, adding that it's the first time the group had documented such cases in the region.

Shortly after the drowning, IOM staff found shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, the United Nations agency said.

According to International Organization for Migration, about 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa via war-torn Yemen since January 2017, seeking to reach the Gulf states.

But economic and environmental factors in Somalia and Ethiopia, where most of the migrants come from, have left young people feeling there is no future for them at home.

After the smugglers dumped their human cargo, she says they turned back to Somalia to pick up more people and bring them back on the extremely unsafe, deadly voyage.

International Organization for Migration spokeswoman Olivia Headon tells VOA the migrants knew they could die, but were helpless to resist.


On this route, migrants are exposed to the dangers of Yemen's conflict, with some having been killed in the war.

"The utter disregard for human life by these smugglers, and all human smugglers worldwide, is nothing less than immoral", said William Lacy Swing, director general of the IOM. As per the agency, the average age of missing migrants was 16.

"This journey is especially hazardous during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean", an IOM release said.

This year 55,000 African migrants reached Arabian Peninsula through this unsafe route, IOM said.

While the route isn't new, smugglers working in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden have taken advantage of the instability in Yemen.

Several refugee camps in southern Yemen host Somali refugees.

Yemen itself is beset by a two-year civil war in which forces loyal to the Saudi-backed government are pitted against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

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