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Up to 55 migrants missing off Yemen, UN agency says
12 August 2017, 09:55 | Silvia Roy
Traffickers push up to 180 migrants into sea off Yemen: UN
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".
Survivors - all Ethiopian and Somali migrants - managed to make their way to Shabwa, a southern province along Yemen's Arabian Sea coastline, the International Organization for Migration said.
Smugglers yesterday forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into rough seas off Yemen to avoid arrest by local authorities, leaving at least 29 dead and 22 missing, the organisation said.
Already this year, 55,000 migrants have taken the hazardous route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen to seek possible opportunities offered in the Gulf, IOM said.
The teenage migrants were trying to reach the Gulf countries via Yemen on Wednesday.
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Laurent de Boeck, the IOM Yemen chief of mission, said the boat's crew immediately returned to Somalia to pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route.
An IOM spokesperson in Yemen told AFP the majority of the Ethiopian migrants appeared to be teenagers and young adults.
"The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous".
Twenty nine dead bodies washed up on the shore after Wednesday's tragedy while 27 others made it alive to the shore, it said.
The IOM said it feared the incidents might mark the start of a new trend in people-smuggling that could lead to more deaths. They didn't succeed, they went back home, but the parents didn't agree with the fact that they didn't succeed so they send them back. "They are between 12 and 25 years old".
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He listed other areas affected by the Cordon and Search operation as Jiddari -Polo, Muna Garage and Jakana among others. The security forces added they had not targeted the property and the operation was successfully concluded.
"The difficulty is also that this is a criminal network which is organised not only in Yemen but also in Somalia, in Djibouti as well as Ethiopia", he added.
In Ethiopia, people expressed outrage on social media over the drownings.
Despite the fighting in Yemen, African migrants continue to arrive in the country where there is no central authority to prevent them from traveling onward.
Yemen's conflict itself is a deadly risk.
In March, a helicopter opened fire on the vessel carrying over 140 Somali passengers in the Red Sea off the Yemen coast, killing 42 civilians and wounding another 34.
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The migration agency also released a statement saying the migrants were looking to reach other countries through Yemen.
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