Dozens of migrants drown off the shore of Yemen

Dozens of migrants drown off the shore of Yemen
The United Nations Migration Agency said dozens of migrants drowned after their boat capsized off the shore of Yemen.
3 min read
06 June, 2018
Despite the war African migrants and refugees continue to arrive in the war-torn country [AFP]

Forty-six migrants drowned and 16 are missing after their boat capsized off the shore of Yemen in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the United Nations Migration Agency said.

At least 100 migrants were crammed on the smugglers boat that left the port of Bossaso in Somalia on Tuesday, travelling through the night.

The boat overturned in high waves in the Gulf of Aden at around 5:00 am (0200GMT) as it approached its destination.

"IOM staff reported that 46 migrants had drowned, 37 men and 9 women. A further 16 remain missing, presumed dead," the agency said in a statement, adding that they were all reportedly Ethiopian.

"Survivors said the passengers, who were without lifejackets in the smuggler's boat, started panicking as high waves struck close to the shore. As the boat took on water, they were pitched headlong into the rough seas where so many succumbed."

The group were attempting to cross the Horn of Africa to find employment in Yemen and the Gulf.

In January, at least 30 African migrants and refugees drowned when a boat capsized off Yemen's coast the UN said, reiterating warnings of the risks involved with travelling to the war-torn country.

The overcrowded boat was carrying around 152 Ethipians and Somalis when it tragically capsized. It was heading from the al-Buraiqa coast near the Yemeni city of Aden toward Djibouti, the UN migration agency said.

Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war pitting a Saudi-led coalition backing an internationally recognised government against Houthi rebels since March 2015. 

Despite the fighting, African migrants and refugees continue to arrive in the war-torn country, where there is no central authority to prevent them from travelling onward to reach oil-rich Gulf countries in hopes of finding jobs and better living conditions.

IOM figures show that some 87,000 people sought to reach Yemen from the Horn of Africa by boat in 2017. 

UN agencies have attempted to discourage migrants from embarking on the perilous trip by holding regional awareness campaign in several countries, including Ethiopia and Somalia, to warn people of its dangers.

"Yemen is one of the most dangerous places in the world, it's in the middle of a terrible conflict, on the verge of famine, with a cholera epidemic, and so on, and yet refugees and migrants continue to arrive," UNHCR's spokesman William Spindler said.

The UN agencies blamed the prolonged Yemeni conflict for subjecting refugees and migrants to the risk of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, detention, trafficking and deportation.

The near three-year stalemated war in Yemen has damaged its infrastructure, crippled the health system and pushed the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine.

More than 10,000 people have died since the war escalated with the Saudi-led coalition’s intervention in March 2015.