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Scores of migrants 'deliberately drowned' by traffickers near Yemen

Scores of migrants 'deliberately drowned' by traffickers near Yemen”

Five bodies have been recovered so far and around 50 are reported missing.

Geneva/Brussels - About 180 young Ethiopian and Somali migrants, many weakened by hunger and drought in their home countries, were forced from a boat into rough seas off Yemen by smugglers on Thursday and 55 were presumed drowned, the UN's International Organisation for Migration said.

"When they arrive, they either disappear directly or are taken by smugglers again, who unfortunately take them to places where they kidnap them", said Mr de Boeck.

The migrants on board were from Somalia and Ethiopia and heading to countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen. "People pay this small amount of money, which is actually affordable for them, but on the journey the smugglers rape, torture, and abuse them". Numerous boat's passengers were teenagers.

Survivors, thought to number about 70, told the IOM that smugglers had pushed them into the sea after seeing "authority types" on the coast. However, the route is increasingly unsafe because of the war and migrants often end up in the hands of unscrupulous militia and bandits.

But most get caught in the conflict before reaching the promises of jobs in the Gulf, Headon says.

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At least another 22 people of around 120 people on the boat are still missing, the IOM said.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from about 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of worldwide agencies that monitors migration in the area. One-third are women. In spite of the war in Yemen, African migrants continue to choose this route because there is no central authority that can prevent them from undertaking their trip.

Numerous migrants who arrive in Yemen after being sold on fake promises end up returning home.

"Generally, they look at the Arab peninsula as a potential employment opportunity, "said Mr de Boeck".

De Boeck expressed regret that the European Union is more focused on Mediterranean routes where smugglers have also cast migrants trying to reach Europe adrift.



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