“De­lib­er­ately drowned”

As many as 50 mi­grants are killed when a smug­gler forces them into the sea.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

Up to 50 mi­grants from So­ma­lia and Ethiopia were “de­lib­er­ately drowned” when a smug­gler forced them into the sea off Ye­men’s coast, the U.N. mi­gra­tion agency said Wed­nes­day, call­ing the drown­ings “shock­ing and in­hu­mane.”

In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion staffers found the shal­low graves of 29 of the mi­grants on a beach in Shabwa dur­ing a rou­tine pa­trol, the agency’s state­ment said. The dead were buried by those who sur­vived.

At least 22 mi­grants re­mained miss­ing, the IOM said. The pas­sen­gers’ av­er­age age was around 16, the agency said.

The nar­row wa­ters be­tween the Horn of Africa and Ye­men have been a pop­u­lar mi­gra­tion route de­spite Ye­men’s on­go­ing con­flict. Mi­grants try to make their way to the oil-rich Gulf coun­tries.

The smug­gler forced more than 120 mi­grants into the sea Wed­nes­day morn­ing as they ap­proached Ye­men’s coast, the IOM state­ment 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,” said Lau­rent de Boeck, the IOM’s chief of mis­sion in Ye­men. “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.”

IOM staffers pro­vided aid for 27 sur­viv­ing mi­grants who re­mained on the beach, while other mi­grants left.

De Boeck called the suf­fer­ing of mi­grants on the route enor­mous, es­pe­cially dur­ing the cur­rent windy sea­son on the In­dian Ocean. “Too many young peo­ple pay smug­glers with the false hope of a bet­ter fu­ture,” he said.

The IOM says about 55,000 mi­grants have left Horn of Africa na­tions for Ye­men since Jan­uary. African mi­grants con­tinue to ar­rive in the war-torn coun­try, where there is no cen­tral author­ity to pre­vent them from trav­el­ing on­ward. The mi­grants are vul­ner­a­ble to abuse by armed traf­fick­ing rings, many of them be­lieved to be con­nected to the armed groups in­volved in the war.

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