Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

IOM: Smugglers 'deliberately drowned' migrants near Yemen

IOM: Smugglers 'deliberately drowned' migrants near Yemen

It was the second such incident in as many days off Shabwa province in southern Yemen, where 50 teenage African migrants were "deliberately drowned" on Wednesday by a smuggler who forced 120 passengers off his boat, the migration agency said.

The tragedy occurred early Wednesday morning local time and was discovered by staff from the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration later that day when they were patrolling a beach in Shabwa, a Yemeni governorate along the Arabian Sea.

While these are the first incidents of their kind, Mr de Boeck said there were many other dangers facing the thousands of young migrants arriving by boat to Yemen every month.

The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen, IOM reported. More than 30،000 of those migrants are under 18 and from Somalia and Ethiopia، while a third are estimated to be female. "Some people are paying as little as $100 US, but then on route they are tortured, they are abused, their families are made aware of this and are forced to pay $1,000 or to $2,000 more".

Mr de Boeck said the smuggler had seen a military boat and was scared he would be arrested.

Despite the conflict, migrants still seek transit through Yemen, often towards its land border with Saudi Arabia.

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"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.

According to survivors' testimonies, the smuggler pushed them to the sea after he saw men he perceived as "authority types".

According to IOM, around 50 migrants are missing and at least five died after smugglers pushed about 180 migrants overboard off the coast of Yemen.

The group, which included Gambians and Senegalese, said they had been abandoned by their driver.

De Boeck expressed regret that the European Union is more focused on Mediterranean routes where smugglers have also cast migrants trying to reach Europe adrift.

Twenty-five people were being treated for injuries on a beach on Yemen's Red Sea coast, the United Nations migration agency told AFP.

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