Over the past two days, smugglers have forced around 300 of people traveling on boats to Yemen into the water, causing many people to drown, the United Nations said on Thursday, August 10.
Officials have recovered the bodies of five people out of as many as 180 reportedly thrown into the sea on Thursday.
On Wednesday, smugglers reportedly forced more than 120 people from Somalia and Ethiopia into the sea as they approached the Shabwa on the Arabian Sea coast, according to the International Organization for Migration. At least 50 people drowned, and the IOM uncovered 29 shallow graves on the beach.
Laurent de Boeck, the IOM’s chief of mission for Yemen, said on Thursday that survivors recounted being pushed into the sea by a smuggler “when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast.”
— IOM – UN Migration (@UNmigration) August 10, 2017
The IOM noted that the migrants had been hoping to enter Yemen, which has been in a state of conflict since 2011, in order to reach other countries in the Gulf.
“This is shocking and inhumane. The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous,” de Boeck added.
The smuggler, according to witnesses, has already returned to Somalia to bring more people along the same route.
In March, 42 people were killed when a helicopter attacked a Somali civilian boat off Yemen’s Red Sea coast near the port of Hudaydah. Reuters news agency reported last month that the UN has determined the Saudi-led coalition carried out the attack. The UN said the attack violated international law.
The IOM estimates that around 55,000 people have tried to get to Yemen from the Horn of Africa already this year. One-third are estimated to be female, and more than 30,000 are under the age of 18. They are mostly from Somalia and Ethiopia.