March 23, 2018

Scores of migrants 'deliberately drowned' by traffickers near Yemen

11 August 2017, 12:40 | Marta Robbins

UN International Organization for Migration IOM staff assist Somali and Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers

UN International Organization for Migration
IOM staff assist Somali and Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers

Laurent de Boeck is the Chief of Mission in Yemen for the International Organisation for Migration.

The International Organization for Migration statement comes a day after it reported a similar incident in which up to 50 other migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia were "deliberately drowned" by a smuggler off Yemen. IOM was shocked over the incident and called it inhumane. According to the IOM, survivors buried 29 bodies and at least 22 people remain missing. "The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16،" the migration agency said.

More than 50,000 migrants are believed to have left the Horn of Africa since January to come to Yemen, the United Nations agency notes.

"There was one lead smuggler who was directly instructing the migrants, but he did have other smugglers working on the boat with him who were armed with guns and other weapons". They also told the migration agency that the smuggler went back to Somalia to pick up more migrants.

Torn for the past three years by a war between rebels, pro-iranian government forces, pro-saudi, the Yemen, a country without resources, account of the many camps where are piled up thousands of african migrants. "Even if you are aware of the dangers of the route, as a migrant you buy into the idea, the dream of finding a job there", Headon added.

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"It may be the start of a new trend, smugglers know the situation is unsafe for them and they could be shot at, so they drop them near the shore", Olivia Headon, IOM spokesperson, told Reuters on Thursday.

The IOM estimates to 55 000 the number of migrants -a third of them women - arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa since the beginning of the year.

This journey is especially hazardous during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean. "Smugglers are active in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, offering fake promises to vulnerable migrants". Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future.

Several refugee camps in southern Yemen host Somali refugees.

Years of fighting between the Saudi-backed government and Shiite Huthi rebels allied with Iran have been compounded by a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 2,000 people and the looming threat of starvation.

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