Tuesday, 23 July, 2019

30 migrants drown after boat sinks off Yemen

International Organisation for Migration staff help Ethiopian migrants forced into sea by smugglers last year 30 migrants drown after boat sinks off Yemen
Patty Aguilar | 28 January, 2018, 23:53

The UN Migration Agency confirms the death of at least 30 refugees after their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen.

But the impoverished country continues to draw migrants from the Horn of Africa, many of them seeking work in prosperous Gulf countries further north.

The UN's migration and refugee agencies said on Friday that the boat, overcrowded with at least 152 Somalis and Ethiopians, had departed from the Al Buraiqa coast in Aden on January 23.

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war and a failing economy, leaving millions of people in starvation.

"These migrants, as far as we can tell, are folks who have been in limbo inside Yemen for some time", said Joel Millman, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency.

The boat was reportedly being run by smugglers who tried to take more money from the migrants.

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The ongoing civil war in Yemen exposes refugees to further human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrest, detention, trafficking and deportation. The victims a year ago included at least 50 passengers from Somalia and Ethiopia bound for Yemen, who were thrown into the sea by traffickers as their boat neared the coast.

Survivors say they heard gunfire just before the vessel capsized.

In August a year ago, dozens of migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia died after human traffickers forced them off two Yemen-bound boats and into the sea.

More than 9,200 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015, when a Saudi-led military coalition began to battle Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, in order to restore the country's internationally recognised government to power.

Jeffrey Labovitz, the agency's regional director in Nairobi, said many migrants in Yemen are enduring "dire and vulnerable situations in a country at war, which is also suffering from large-scale food shortages".

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