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39 migrants dead after boat sinks off Yemen: UN agency

World
  A sailing boat sinks as the waves reach 6 meters due to heavy rain and storm in Bartin, Turkiye on November 19, 2023. [ AFP]

A boat carrying more than 200 migrants sank off Yemen, leaving at least 39 dead in the latest disaster on the perilous migration route from Africa, a UN agency said Tuesday.

"Tragic incident off #Yemen coast: Boat with 260 migrants sank yesterday. 39 dead, 150 missing, 71 survivors," the International Organisation for Migration said on X, referring to Monday's sinking.

The post did not specify the migrants' nationalities.

Each year many tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa set off across the Red Sea in a bid to reach the oil-rich Gulf, escaping conflict, natural disasters or poor economic prospects.

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

The IOM said at the time it had recorded a total of 1,350 deaths on the migration route since 2014, not including this year.

In 2023 alone, it said it documented at least 698 deaths on the route, including 105 lost at sea.

The IOM said on Tuesday it was "providing immediate aid to survivors".

Dangerous journey 

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.

In August, Human Rights Watch accused Saudi border guards of killing "at least hundreds" of Ethiopians trying to cross into the Gulf kingdom from Yemen between March 2022 and June 2023, using explosive weapons in some cases.

Riyadh dismissed the group's findings as "unfounded and not based on reliable sources".

In a report last week, the Mixed Migration Centre said hospitals in Yemen continued to receive migrants injured in attacks along the border and that at least some killings continued.

The group, which aims to provide independent research on migration, said it had "only been able to interview a small number of Ethiopian returnees" and that comprehensive data was "extremely difficult to obtain".

Therefore "it is impossible to say whether proportionally the extent of migrant killings has reduced compared to one year ago," the group said.

"However, even if central Saudi authorities would have instructed border guards to reduce or end the killings, MMC found that the killing of Ethiopian migrants by Saudi security officials has been continuing."

The IOM said last month that, despite the many dangers of the migration route, the number of migrants arriving in Yemen "tripled from 2021 to 2023, soaring from approximately 27,000 to over 90,000."

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