Smugglers drown 50 African refugees
FIFTY refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia trying to get to the Gulf were “deliberately drowned” by people smugglers on Wednesday and their bodies buried in shallow graves along the beach in Shabwa, Yemen, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
A human smuggler, in charge of the boat, forced more than 120 refugees into the pitching sea as they approached the coast of Shabwa, a Yemeni Governorate along the Arabian Sea.
The refugees had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen.
Shortly after the tragedy, staff from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, found the shallow graves of 29 refugees on a beach in Shabwa, during a routine patrol. The dead had been buried rapidly by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions.
The migration agency said it was working closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure appropriate care for the deceased refugees’ remains.
Medical staff from the agency also provided urgent care to the 27 surviving refugees who had remained on the beach.
IOM said it provided initial health checks and assistance, including food, water and other emergency relief.
Some of the survivors had already left the beach before being assisted.
Twenty-two refugees are reportedly still missing and unaccounted for. The average age of the passengers on the boat was 16.
“The survivors told colleagues on the beach that the smugglers pushed them into the sea, when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” said Laurent de Boeck, the IOM Yemen Chief of Mission.
“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. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous.
“Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future.”
Since January, the migration agency estimates that around 55 000 refugees left the Horn of Africa for Yemen, most with the aim of trying to find better opportunities in the Gulf countries.–