About 180 migrants forced from boat, a day after 50 Somalis, Ethiopians drowned by smugglers

IOM staff tend to the remains of a deceased migrant on a beach in Yemen. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

ESAT News (August 10, 2017)

Another 180 migrants were forced from a boat today, a day after 50 Somalis and Ethiopians were drowned by smugglers off the coast of Yemen, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement Thursday.

“Up to 180 migrants are reported to have been forced from a boat by smugglers off the coast of Yemen. Five bodies have been recovered so far and around 50 are reported missing. This latest incident comes barely 24 hours after smugglers forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea resulting in the drowning of around 50 migrants,” said the statement from the IOM

The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen, the IOM further said.

The staff from the IOM also found shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, during a routine patrol. The dead had been quickly buried by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions, according to the Organization.

The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16.

“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea, when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” explained Laurent de Boeck, the IOM Yemen Chief of Mission. “They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous. Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future,” de Boeck further said.

Since January 2017 to date, the IOM estimated that around 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen, most with the aim of trying to find better opportunities in the Gulf countries. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under the age of 18 from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.