Nearly 50 migrants die in boat sinking off Yemen

Nearly 50 migrants die in boat sinking off Yemen

At least 49 people are dead and 140 missing after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Yemen, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Tuesday. It was carrying around 260 migrants, mainly from the Horn of Africa, who were seeking to reach the Yemeni coast. Among the deaths were 31 women and six children.

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At least 49 migrants dead and 140 missing », Specified the IOM in a press release on Tuesday. A previous report reported 39 deaths. “ This tragedy reminds us once again of the urgent need to work together to address pressing migration challenges and ensure the safety of migrants along migration routes “, declared Mohammedali Abunajela, spokesperson for the United Nations agency.

According to survivors, the boat left northeastern Somalia on Sunday, June 9, in the middle of the night. On board, vulnerable passengers: 115 Somalis and 145 Ethiopians, including 90 women and dozens of children.

The shipwreck occurred very close to the coast of Yemen, off the town of Rudum. Local authorities explain that due to the violent winds sweeping the area, the boat sank before it could reach the shore. The survivors were rescued by fishermen who raised the alarm and notified the UN organization.

Search operations continue, but are being slowed down, according to the International Organization for Migration, by the lack of patrol boats and lifeboats.

Three times more crossings from Africa to Yemen, at least 1,350 dead

The UN indicates that 97,000 people attempted this crossing last year from eastern Africa, three times more than in 2021, when there were 27,000. According to the IOM press release, migrants from the Horn of Africa are mainly pushed by “ political and economic instability, as well as severe droughts and other extreme weather events in countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia “.

Every year, tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa take the “ Eastern Road “, which crosses the Red Seain an attempt to reach the oil-rich Gulf countries, fleeing conflicts, natural disasters and poor economic prospects at home.

In April, two boats sank off the coast of Djibouti two weeks apart, killing dozens. At least 1,350 migrants have died on the “ Eastern Road » since 2014, not counting this year, according to IOM statistics.

Saudi border guards accused of killing “ hundreds » of migrants

Migrants who manage to reach Yemen often face other threats to their safety, given that the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country has been gripped by civil war for nearly a decade.

Many migrants therefore try to reach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries where they can find jobs as laborers or domestic workers. In August, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) had accused Saudi border guards of killing “ hundreds » of Ethiopians who attempted to enter the Gulf kingdom from Yemen from March 2022 to June 2023. Riyadh rejected these accusations calling them “ unfounded “.

In a report released last week, the Mixed Migration Center (MMC) said Yemen’s hospitals continued to receive migrants injured in attacks along the border and others continued to be killed.

This NGO which carries out independent research and analysis on migration said it was extremely difficult to obtain comprehensive data about these events.