At Least 55 People Feared Drowned off Yemen after Being Forced from Boat
Albanian Daily News
Published August 10, 2017
A group of Somali and Ethiopian people wait on a beach near Shabwa after being forced from a boat off the coast of Yemen. Photograph: IOM
At least 55 people are feared to have drowned off the coast of Yemen after being forced from a migrant boat by smugglers in the second such incident in two days, the UN migration agency has said.

Five bodies were recovered during an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) beach patrol in Shabwa province, and about 50 more people were missing.

On Wednesday the IOM said 51 people had been "deliberately drowned" in a similar incident. Survivors told the IOM that the smuggler pushed about 120 people into the sea after he thought he had seen some "authority-type" figures off the Yemeni coast. The passengers' average age was about 16, the IOM said. .

"The utter disregard for human life by these smugglers, and all human smugglers worldwide, is nothing less than immoral," said William Lacy Swing, director general of the IOM. "What is a teenager's life worth? On this route to the Gulf countries, it can be as little as $100."

Yemen is in the midst of a protracted civil war and an outbreak of cholera, but migrants and refugees continue to arrive in their thousands, hoping to pass through and reach wealthy Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE.

The IOM says about 55,000 people have left Horn of Africa countries for Yemen since January, with most coming from Somalia and Ethiopia. A third of them are estimated to be women.

"There is something fundamentally wrong with this world if countless numbers of children can be deliberately and ruthlessly drowned in the ocean, when they are no longer an easy source of income, and nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again," Swing said.

"It should never have happened in the first place. We should not have to wait for tragedies like these to show us that international cooperation must be enhanced to fight human smuggling - not just through policy but through real action along these smuggling routes."

The conflict in Yemen is between Houthi rebels allied with former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and Saudi Arabia-backed forces loyal to the exiled president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Yemen's humanitarian crisis has been described as the largest of its kind in the world. According to the World Health Organisation, suspected cholera cases have been reported in 95.6% of the country's provinces.

(Source: The Guardian)

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