Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Scores of migrants 'deliberately drowned' by traffickers near Yemen

Scores of migrants 'deliberately drowned' by traffickers near Yemen

The IOM counted 125 survivors from Thursday's incident, five confirmed dead and a further 50 missing, presumed drowned. Most of those drowned were teenagers.

"The dead had been quickly buried by those who survived the smugglers' deadly actions", IOM said.

The organization says that around 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa headed for Yemen since the start of the year, most travelling from Somalia and Ethiopia.

"Boats are making this journey all the time where people are being abused and raped on route so that their families will pay more..." This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants. The average age of the passengers on the boat Wednesday was 16.

At least another 22 people of around 120 people on the boat are still missing, the IOM said.

"The survivors have told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler had led them to the sea expecting to see +(representatives) of the authorities "near the coast", explains Laurent de Boeck, chief of mission of IOM in Yemen".

On this route, migrants are exposed to the dangers of Yemen's conflict, with some having been killed in the war.

It says the journey is particularly risky at this time of year due to high winds in the Indian Ocean. There is an ongoing drought situation in Somalia and Ethiopia.

About a third of those forced into the sea when the smugglers thought they saw authority figures on the beach were women.

"The smugglers are panicking", De Boeck said, but added that reinforced border controls along the coast could be having a counter-productive effect. "They are between 12 and 25 years old".

Passengers on Wednesday's deadly journey told the United Nations migration agency that smugglers had returned to Somalia to pick up more migrants and bring them along the same route.

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.

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