Migrants traveling with smugglers off the coast of Yemen were forced into the sea on Thursday, with another five people reported dead and some 50 missing – just a day after a similar episode claimed 50 lives.
The International Organization for Migration said up to 180 migrants were forced off the boat in the second episode, but few other details were available. The news came hours after the deaths of some 50 Somali and Ethiopian migrants, who also were traveling by boat to Yemen and were forced into the sea by a smuggler. They drowned off the coast of Shabwa on Wednesday.
“One hundred and twenty Somali and Ethiopian migrants forced from a boat yesterday, and another 180 today,” said IOM chief William Lacy Swing. “The death toll is still being counted. The utter disregard for human life by these smugglers and all human smugglers worldwide is nothing less than immoral. What is a teenager’s life worth?”
Swing added that 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 an easy source of income, and nothing is done to stop it from ever happening again.”
Survivors of the first episode said they were pushed into the sea when the smuggler saw security forces or other authorities near the coast, according to IOM in Yemen. Those survivors said the smuggler had already returned to Somalia to pick up more migrants and head back to Yemen on the same route.
Since January 2017, around 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa to enter Yemen and transit to other Gulf countries. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under the age of 18 from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female, the IOM said.