About 160 Ethiopian migrants forced into the sea off the coast of Yemen by smugglers

The bodies of migrants wash up on a beach in Shabwa, Yemen on Wednesday

ESAT News (August 11, 2017)

160 Ethiopian migrants were violently forced into the sea off the coast of Yemen on Thursday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.

Thursday’s tragedy came one day after the presumed death of 50 Ethiopian and Somali migrants during a similar incident, the Organization said.

Both tragedies took place off the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea – although Thursday’s was in a different location and closer to the shore.

Staff from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, found six bodies on the beach – two male and four female. An additional 13 Ethiopian migrants are still missing, according a press release by the IOM.

The deadly actions of the smugglers today bring the total number of presumed dead over the last two days close to 70.

According to the migration agency, 114 migrants are dead or missing in 2017 off the coast of Yemen (Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea en route to Yemen) and 109 in 2016. The agency said the actual total is likely to be higher.

Survivors from both incidents described their journey with the smugglers to IOM: Throughout the journey, migrants had been brutally treated by the smugglers. They were forced to squat down for the entirety of the trip from Ambah Shore in Somalia, which sometimes takes between 24-36 hours, so that the smugglers could increase the number of people in the boat. The migrants were not allowed to move inside the boat. They were not allowed a private or separate space to use the bathroom and had to urinate on themselves. In some cases, the smugglers tied their hands so if something did happen, they would not be able to run or swim or save their lives. If one of the migrants accidentally moved, he would be beaten or even killed. The migrants were not allowed to take enough food or water on the journey to fulfill their basic needs. They were only allowed to take one to two litres of water and one small meal. They also faced many dangerous during the journey in the windy season.

“Recently, smugglers have been pushing migrants out of the boats, fearing that the security forces might arrest them. This is what happened the past two days in Shabwa,” said Lina Koussa, IOM’s Emergency Response Officer in Aden.

“We condemn the acts of smugglers off the coast of Yemen – 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants were forced from a boat yesterday, and another 160 today, the death toll is still unknown,” said William Lacy Swing, IOM Director General.