Drowning of Yemen migrants evolving into a growing trend

By Kalendra Withana,

It has not been easy for new migrants and refugees descending into the Republic of Yemen, with a recent report informing that at least 55 people have potentially drowned after being forced off a boat by human smugglers.



It has been confirmed that altogether roughly 180 individuals, originating from Ethiopian and Somali backgrounds, had being forced into the sea.

Furthermore, another similar tragedy had occurred in the province this week, which saw 120 passengers being forced off a boat and 50 being drowned.

As a result of this news, The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) characterises these drownings as being “deliberate” and “the start of a new trend”.

William Lacy Swing, director general of IOM, posted a video statement of Twitter where he articulated thoughts such as:

“The utter disregard for human life by these smugglers, and all human smugglers worldwide, is nothing less than immoral,”

Swing further added: “What is a teenager’s life worth? On this route to the Gulf countries, it can be as little as $100.”



Speaking to 25 of the latest survivors, the IOM disclose that many migrants are very much traumatised and in dire need of medical attention.

"These people are really thin. There is an ongoing drought situation in Somalia and Ethiopia. Some may not have had much strength to make it alive to the shore," a spokeswoman said.

According to the IOM, approximately 55,000 civilians have vacated African countries for Yemen since January.

The migrants are generally ethically divided between Somalis and Ethopians and it seems that both groups want to escape their countries’ corrupt Government and economy.

It is also said that the escaping individuals are a mix of men and women and have an average age of 16.

However, it is known that the Republic of Yemen currently has an outbreak of cholera and is undergoing a civil war. Therefore, one might ask why anyone would want to migrate there.

Nevertheless, it is reported that despite arriving to Yemen in thousands, migrants use the country as a stepping stone to arrive at economically developed Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

As for the victims, the death toll is still being counted and the fate of future Yemen migrants rests uncertain. As the IOM state, the drownings are very much “shocking and inhumane”.

Sources – The Guardian, ABC News

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