Published: 2017-08-10 15:54
Last Updated: 2017-08-10 16:41
Up to 50 Somali and Ethiopian refugees, mostly teenagers, were “deliberately drowned” on Wednesday when a human smuggler who 120 migrants into the sea off Yemen’s coast, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
“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,” the UN migration agency’s chief of mission in Yemen, Laurent de Boeck said in a statement.
“They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane,” De Boeck added.
The IOM found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in the southern province of Shabwa during a routine patrol and 22 migrants are reportedly still missing. The average age of the migrants was around 16.
IOM staffers provided aid for 27 survivors who remained on the beach, while others left.
The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen are a popular route for migration for refugees and migrants trying to make their way to the oil-rich Gulf countries, despite the country’s ongoing conflict.
The IOM estimates that around 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen since the beginning of the year.
More than 30,000 of those migrants are under 18 and from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.