The IOM said on Sunday that there are at least “8 migrants dead and 12 are missing at sea” after being forced off a boat by smugglers off the coast of Djibouti. The migrants were traveling from Yemen, the UN organization added.
The UN migration agency IOM (International Organization for Migration) has tweeted that it believes at least “eight migrants have died and 12 are missing at sea after being forced off a boat by smugglers off the coast of Djibouti.”
The migrants, IOM said, were traveling from Yemen back towards the Horn of Africa after war and unrest in Yemen had made the choice to migrate there in the first place impossible.
14 survivors from the boat “are receiving medical care,” said an IOM statement according to the news agency AP. Those aboard the boat are “thought to be Ethiopian.”
Previously, many people from countries like Ethiopia and the surrounding region would travel towards Yemen in the hope of finding work in the richer Gulf states like Saudia Aarabia or Qatar. But, according to IOM “it is believed that this boatload of migrants had failed to reach Saudi Arabia,” and had turned back.
The eight found dead washed up on the shore and were buried by the authorities in Djibouti.
According to the IOM, “some 2,000 migrants have arrived in Djibouti from Yemen in the past three weeks alone.” Others though are still hoping to head in the other direction in the hope that they will be luckier than this boatload.
‘A wake-up call’
Yvonne Ndege, IOM spokesperson called the “tragedy” a “wake-up call.” She said that now “hundreds of migrants are leaving Yemen every day on the precarious voyage by boat across the Bab al-Mandeb strait.”
This is not the first time that smugglers have forced migrants off the boats. In 2017, 50 people from Somalia and Ethiopia were “deliberately drowned” when they were forced into the water off Yemen’s coast, according to AP.
A year later, in 2018, “at least 30 migrants” died when their boat capsized off Yemen. Survivors from that incident said they had heard gunfire, AP writes.