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Smugglers Throw Nearly 300 Migrants Into the Sea Off Yemen

Smugglers Throw Nearly 300 Migrants Into the Sea Off Yemen

The International Organization for Migration said Thursday's drownings occurred a day after around 50 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia were "deliberately drowned" by a smuggler in another boat off Yemen.

The IOM said in a statement late Thursday that its staff found six bodies on the beach - two male and four female - and 13 people are still missing.

The survivors told the IOM that a smuggler had pushed them to the sea after seeing people who looked like officials, the IOM's Yemen mission head Laurent de Boeck said.

The smuggler has already returned to Somalia to pick up more migrants to bring them to Yemen on the same route, they told the IOM.

"Smugglers know the situation is unsafe for them and they could be shot at, so they drop them near the shore", she said.

According to the IOM, around 55,000 people, mostly youth, have left the coutnries in the Horn of Africa to seek work in the Gulf countries. Most come from Somalia and Ethiopia.

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.

Their average age was 16, the United Nations agency said. Numerous boat's passengers were teenagers. Yemen is now going through a conflict and humanitarian crisis but the migrants go there to try to reach Europe or the Gulf states. "They drop them near the shore and turn around and get more".

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

The IOM says 29 people died, 22 are still missing and presumed drowned.

"They have some family, or others, who've succeeded and reported back home that it's easy to find a job".

The Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a group of worldwide agencies that monitors migration, says 111,500 refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen previous year and 100,000 in 2015, contributing to a humanitarian crisis in that country.

The other route used by migrants to reach Europe is through the Mediterranean Sea.


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