Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

IOM: Smugglers 'deliberately drowned' migrants near Yemen

IOM: Smugglers 'deliberately drowned' migrants near Yemen

A smuggler "deliberately drowned" dozens of migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia by pushing them from a boat off the coast of southern Yemen on Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.

According to the IOM, survivors buried 29 bodies and at least 22 people remain missing.

IOM staff assist Somali and Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers.

The average age of the passengers on the boat is believed to have been 16-years-old, according to the United Nations agency. Migrants try to make their way to the oil-rich Gulf countries.

The statement says staffers provided aid for 27 surviving migrants who remained on the beach, while other migrants left.

It said the passengers were mostly young people from Somalia and Ethiopia, who had paid people smugglers in the hope of finding a better life.

"He denounced an act of "outrageous and inhumane", noting the" huge suffering of the migrants on this route of migration.

"They have also said that the smuggler was already returned to Somalia to continue its business, and (...) bring back other migrants in Yemen (the way) by the same route", he added.

On this route, migrants are exposed to the dangers of Yemen's conflict, with some having been killed in the war.

Some Somalis are desperate to avoid years of chaos at home with attacks by homegrown extremist group al-Shabab and deadly drought.

Since January 2017 to date, IOM estimates 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.

About a third of those forced into the sea when the smugglers thought they saw authority figures on the beach were women.

More than 111,500 people landed on the country's shores previous year, up from about 100,000 in 2015, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of global agencies that monitors such movements in the area.

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