Up to 50 teen migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen

UN International Organization for Migration
IOM staff assist Somali and Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers

UN International Organization for Migration IOM staff assist Somali and Ethiopian migrants who were forced into the sea by smugglers

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.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said survivors reported the smuggler pushed them into the sea when he spotted what he feared were authorities, as his boat neared the coast of Yemen early on Wednesday. The passengers' average age was around 16, the agency said.

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen's ongoing conflict. They had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen.

The IOM said at least 22 people were unaccounted for after being forced into the sea, and medical staff provided healthcare to 27 survivors.

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The smuggler has already returned to Somalia to pick up more people to bring them to Yemen on the same route, they told the IOM.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of worldwide agencies. Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future.

According to the IOM, since January about 55,000 people - most of whom are teenagers from Somalia and Ethiopia - have left the Horn of Africa in an effort to transit Yemen in search of more sustainable conditions in oil-rich Middle Eastern nations.

The journey through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is particularly risky 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.

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