Smugglers throw 300 African migrants off boats headed to Yemen: UN agency


UNITED NATIONS, Aug 10 (APP): A total of 300 migrants have reportedly
been thrown off the boats over the past two days by smugglers off the
coast of Yemen – many feared dead or missing, the United Nations migration agency has reported.
“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler
pushed them into the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the
coast,” Laurent de Boeck, the Yemen Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said in a statement.
“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 added.
According to IOM, up to 180 migrants were reportedly thrown into the
sea from a boat Thursday by the smugglers. 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. The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen.
Shortly after Wednesday’s ragedy, IOM staff found the 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.
The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16.
Since January of this year, 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. 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.
It said the this journey is especially hazardous during the current
windy season in the Indian Ocean. Smugglers are active in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, offering fake promises to vulnerable migrants. IOM and its partners operate across the region to support these migrants and provide lifesaving assistance to those who find themselves abused or stranded along the route.