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Forty-nine die after migrant boat capsizes off Yemen, IOM says

Original source (on modern site)

11 June 2024

By Youssef Taha, BBC News

At least 49 people from the Horn of Africa have died after their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Among the dead were six children and 31 women. Survivors told rescuers that the vessel, carrying 260 migrants, sank on Monday in strong winds.

The search continues for 140 people who are still missing.

The boat left Somalia at 03:00 (01:00 BST) on Sunday carrying 115 Somali nationals and 145 Ethiopians, part of a recent rise in migration from the Horn of Africa to Yemen, according to the IOM.

Local authorities in Rudum, east of Aden, said that those on board were migrants who use Yemen as a transit point to reach Gulf states.

According to the IOM, tens of thousands of people a year attempt the journey, crossing by sea from the Horn of Africa to Yemen and then travelling on to Saudi Arabia or other wealthier nations.

Hadi al-Khurma, the director of Rudum district told Reuters news agency the boat sank before it reached the shore.

Fishermen and residents managed to rescue survivors, who reported that more migrants were missing from the same boat, Mr al-Khurma said.

"The search is still ongoing and the United Nations has been informed of the incident," he said.

The IOM said the ongoing search and rescue operation has been challenged by a shortage of operational patrol boats.

It said it was providing aid to 71 survivors, including six children, with eight migrants referred to hospital.

In a statement on Tuesday, IOM spokesman Mohammedali Abunajela said "this recent tragedy is another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address urgent migration challenges".

According to the UN, 97,000 migrants arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa last year. They are motivated by political and economic instability, droughts and other extreme weather events in their own countries, the organisation said.

The number of migrants arriving to Yemen annually has tripled from around 27,000 in 2021 to more than 90,000 in 2023, the IOM said. The increase has occurred despite the war in Yemen and recent Houthi assaults on ships in the Red Sea.

The journey is perilous: Since 2014, the IOM has recorded 1,860 migrant deaths and disappearances along the route from East Africa and the Horn of Africa to the Gulf, including 480 people who drowned.

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