Al-Sabah Al-Yemeni | news agencies |
Smugglers forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into rough seas off Yemen on Wednesday, leaving 29 dead and 22 missing, according to the International Organization for Migration IOM.
The IOM said it had found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in the southern province of Shabwa after they had been buried by survivors.
“The smugglers deliberately pushed the migrants into the waters since they feared that they would be arrested by the authorities once they reach the shore,” said an IOM emergency officer in Aden.
Then they “simply went back to where they came from to pick more migrants and try to smuggle them into Yemen, again”.
IOM says around 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa headed for Yemen since the start of the year, most aiming to find work in Gulf countries.
The journey is especially hazardous at this time of year because of strong winds in the Indian Ocean.
The IOM officer said there were “many women and children among those who died and those who are still missing”.
An IOM statement said its staff had provided urgent care to surviving migrants who had stayed on the beach.
It estimated the average age of the migrants on the boat at about 16.
Yemen, already one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, has been rocked by years of conflict between Shia Houthi rebels and the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led coalition.
The fighting has killed more than 8,000 people and wounded 44,500 since Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in support of Hadi’s government in March 2015.