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At least 49 dead, 140 missing in tragic migrant boat sinking off Yemen coast

Tuesday June 11, 2024


Mogadishu (HOL) - A devastating incident off the coast of Yemen has claimed the lives of at least 49 migrants, with 140 more reported missing after their boat sank on Monday, according to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The vessel, which embarked on its perilous journey from the northern coast of Somalia, was carrying approximately 260 migrants, predominantly from Somalia and Ethiopia, across the treacherous 200-mile (320-kilometer) Gulf of Aden. Search and rescue operations have so far saved 71 individuals, but hopes are dimming for the 140 still unaccounted for. Among the deceased were 31 women and six children.

The tragedy underscores the relentless and dangerous pursuit of a better life by thousands of migrants from East Africa and the Horn of Africa despite Yemen's ongoing civil war and humanitarian crisis. The number of migrants making this journey has surged from 27,000 in 2021 to over 90,000 in 2023, according to IOM data. Currently, about 380,000 migrants are in Yemen.

Migrants often fall victim to human traffickers who use overcrowded and unsafe boats to smuggle them across the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden. The IOM has reported that at least 1,860 people have perished or disappeared along this route, including 480 who drowned. In April, 62 migrants died in two separate shipwrecks off Djibouti's coast while attempting to reach Yemen.

"The sinking of this boat is a tragic reminder of the urgent need for international cooperation to address migration challenges and ensure the safety of migrants," said IOM spokesperson Mohammedali Abunajela.

Despite the immense risks, the conflict in Yemen and dire conditions in their home countries compel many to undertake these dangerous journeys. Yemen remains a critical transit point for migrants aiming to reach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations in search of employment and better living conditions.

Survivors of Monday's disaster recounted their ordeal, describing how the boat, departing from Bossaso in Somalia, capsized near Alghareef Point in Yemen's Shabwah governorate. Local fishermen and community members have played a crucial role in ongoing search efforts, providing vital assistance in the immediate aftermath.

IOM has deployed mobile medical teams to support survivors, many of whom suffer from trauma and injuries. The organization's ongoing efforts include providing first aid and mental health support and facilitating further medical treatment for those in need.

This incident adds to the growing tally of migrant deaths in the region and highlights the dire need for enhanced search and rescue operations and better protection mechanisms for migrants. The international community must address these urgent issues, ensuring safe and legal pathways for those seeking refuge and better opportunities.


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