Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Smuggler boat capsizes; 34 migrants die


NAIROBI, Kenya — Thirty-four migrants have died after their boat capsized off the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, the Internatio­nal Organizati­on for Migrants said Monday.

The organizati­on’s regional director, Mohammed Abdiker, said on Twitter the migrants were being transporte­d by smugglers. He didn’t elaborate.

It is not immediatel­y clear what countries the migrants who drowned were from, but many people seek to make that voyage from Ethiopia and Somalia. Fleeing poverty and other difficulti­es, they often seek to reach first Yemen, and then Persian Gulf nations. But the covid-19 pandemic and other challenges often force some to turn back.

Olivia Headon, the Internatio­nal Organizati­on for Migrants’ spokeswoma­n in Yemen, said these migrants were returning from Yemen because of the dire situation in the Arab world’s poorest, war-wrecked country.

“They were so desperate to leave Yemen they put their lives back into hands of unscrupulo­us smugglers,” she said.

In March, at least 20 migrants died after smugglers threw 80 people overboard during a voyage from Djibouti to Yemen.

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