At least 49 migrants dead as boat capsizes off Yemen coast, UN agency says

Vessel was carrying 260 migrants when it capsized on Monday; 140 are still missing

Yemen's coastguard on patrol. The UN says 97,000 migrants travelled to the country from the Horn of Africa last year. AP
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At least 49 people have died and 140 others remain missing after a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Yemen, the UN migration agency said on Tuesday.

The vessel was carrying 260 migrants when it capsized on Monday near Alghareef Point in Shabwah governorate, the International Organisation for Migration said.

Among the dead are 31 women and six children, the agency said. It is providing aid to 71 survivors.

The boat left from Bosaso in Somalia on Sunday, carrying 115 Somali citizens and 145 Ethiopians, with 90 women among them.

“This mirrors the recent rise in migrants from the Horn of Africa travelling to Yemen, spurred by political and economic instability, alongside severe droughts and other extreme weather events in countries like Ethiopia and Somalia,” the agency said.

“This recent tragedy is another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety and security of migrants along migration routes,” said IOM official Mohammedali Abunajela.

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families as we remain committed to supporting survivors and improving search and rescue efforts in the region.”

The UN said 97,000 migrants travelled from the Horn of Africa to Yemen last year.

The majority of Yemen’s East African migrants first arrive in Djibouti before being packed into small boats by a network of people smugglers. In recent years, many have drowned trying to make the crossing, with human rights groups accusing smugglers of throwing people overboard.

In April, two boats sank off the coast of Djibouti two weeks apart, leaving dozens dead.

The IOM at the time said it had recorded a total of 1,350 deaths on the migration route from 2014 to 2023.

Last year alone, it said it documented at least 698 deaths on the route, including 105 lost at sea.

Those migrants who successfully reach Yemen often encounter further threats to their safety. The Arabian Peninsula's poorest country has been mired in civil war for a decade.

Many are trying to reach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries where they can work as labourers or domestic workers.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 12:04 PM