Up to 55 migrants missing off Yemen, UN agency says

Migrants wait to be rescued by
WATCH: African refugees 'forced off' boats near Yemen coast
Author

13 August, 2017

At least 22 migrants remained missing, the IOM said.

A total of 25 people were being treated for injuries on a Yemeni beach on the Red Sea, said the United Nations migration agency, which could not immediately confirm the nationalities of the casualties.

UN Secretary-General Antonio has said he was "heartbroken" after smugglers pushed mostly African migrants off boats heading for Yemen twice in two days.

On Wednesday, traffickers pushed over 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the Arabian Sea off Yemen's southern Shabwa governorate, according to the IOM.

Medics provided care to dozens of survivors, but some left the beach before help arrived.

The IOM is not at all opposed to mass immigration, and has in fact given migrants its full support throughout the current crisis.

The migrants on this route were heading to countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen.

The average age of the people headed to Yemen on Wednesday was 16.

"They were shocked, exhausted and quite desperate", Laurent de Boeck, the IOM Yemen Chief of Mission, told Reuters in an interview in Brussels. Yemen is now going through a conflict and humanitarian crisis but the migrants go there to try to reach Europe or the Gulf states. "Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future", he said.

It says the journey is particularly risky at this time of year due to high winds in the Indian Ocean.

More than 30,000 of those migrants are under age 18 and from Somalia or Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female. Many leave from points in Djibouti, with some departing from Somalia. "They are between 12 and 25 years old".

The route is popular because it is cheaper than others, but when they arrive migrants often fall victims to abuse.

"They have forgotten us a little bit", Mr de Boeck said.

The conflict itself is a deadly risk. A boat carrying Somali migrants was attacked in March, killing 42.

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 global agencies that monitors migration in the area.


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