United Nations agency: 50 African migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen coast by smugglers

Smugglers push migrants into sea off Yemen, killing 29: IOM

Up to 50 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia were "deliberately drowned" when a smuggler forced them into the sea off Yemen's coast, the United Nations migration agency said Wednesday, calling the drownings "shocking and inhumane".

IOM staff found the bodies of 29 African refugees or migrants buried in shallow graves on the beach in Yemen's southern province of Shabwa along the Gulf of Aden, while another 22 were missing after the tragedy, according to survivors.

They were among 120 people who were deliberately pushed from a boat into the sea by the smuggler, who apparently feared arrest.

The average age of the people headed to Yemen on Wednesday was 16.

The doctors of the IOM have provided support and emergency care to the 27 survivors, women and men, remained on the beach, according to the release.

Then they "simply went back to where they came from to pick more migrants and try to smuggle them into Yemen, again".

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen has been a popular migration route despite Yemen's ongoing conflict. With many still unaccounted for, the IOM believes up to 50 may have died.

Laurent de Boeck, the IOM chief of mission in Yemen, called the incident "shocking and inhumane".

More than 30,000 of those migrants are under age 18 and from Somalia or Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.

"Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future", he said.

The war in Yemen has been nearly 8400 people dead and more than 47 000 casualties since 2015, according to the world Health Organization.

Years of political chaos, combined with the rise of terror groups and deadly drought have driven many to leave Somalia.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of worldwide agencies.

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