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Up to 50 migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen, UN says

Up to 50 migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen, UN says

An IOM spokesperson in Yemen told AFP the majority of the Ethiopian migrants appeared to be teenagers and young adults.

Twenty-five people were being treated for injuries on a Yemeni beach, said the IOM, which could not immediately confirm the nationalities of the casualties.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) - incorporated into the United Nations system in late 2016 - says the number of migrants arriving in Spain is three times higher than it was this time a year ago.

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On Wednesday, traffickers pushed over 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into the Arabian Sea off Yemen's southern Shabwa governorate, according to the IOM. It said 84 migrants left the beach before IOM staff arrived while it provided emergency medical assistance as well as food and water to 57 surviving migrants. The IOM says 22 migrants are still missing.

Every year, thousands of migrants risk their lives on this life-threatening route towards the Gulf countries through Yemen, a country in crisis.

"The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea when he saw some "authority types" near the coast", said Laurent de Boeck, the IOM's chief of mission in Yemen.

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"It will continue to be a trend, the smugglers bring migrants; the Yemen war doesn't stop them", de Boeck said. Yemen is now going through a conflict and humanitarian crisis but the migrants go there to try to reach Europe or the Gulf states. Most of the people on the boat were from Ethiopia and Somalia.

In both cases, most migrants were from Ethiopia and Somalia, the IOM said. "This journey is especially hazardous during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean". A third of them are estimated to be women.

Yemen is one of a few routes that the migrants use to reach other countries. In March, Somalia's government blamed the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen for an attack on a boat that killed at least 42 Somali refugees off Yemen's coast.

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Three times as many migrants have arrived so far in 2017 as the amount who had arrived in the same period a year ago.


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