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Middle East

A boat capsizes off the coast of Yemen killing 38 refugees

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • A boat carrying migrants from the Horn of Africa capsized off Yemen's coast, resulting in 38 deaths and over 100 missing.
  • The overloaded vessel succumbed to powerful winds near the Shabwa governorate, east of Aden.
  • Rescue operations are ongoing, with 78 migrants rescued and the United Nations informed of the incident.

A boat carrying migrants from the Horn of Africa capsized off the coast of Yemen, leading to the death of 38 individuals. The incident occurred near the Shabwa governorate, east of Aden, as the overloaded vessel struggled against powerful winds. This tragic event has left over 100 migrants missing, with rescue operations still underway.

According to Hadi Al-Khurma, the director of Rudum district, the boat sank before it could reach the shores of Shabwa. "Fishermen and residents managed to rescue 78 of the migrants, who reported that about 100 others who were with them on the same boat are missing. The search is still ongoing, and the United Nations has been informed of the incident," Al-Khurma told Reuters.

The boat, which was carrying approximately 250 people, primarily Ethiopian migrants, was using Yemen as a transit point to reach Gulf states. Survivors recounted to rescuers that the vessel succumbed to powerful winds, leaving nearly 100 individuals unaccounted for. The survivors also reported that the boat was heavily overloaded, which likely contributed to the disaster.

Images shared with Arab News show the grim aftermath, with bodies being transported by vehicle to the grave. Abdul Sallam bin Sama, a journalist from Shabwa, reported that fishermen spotted the bodies floating in the sea and began hauling them to the beach. The deceased were buried on Monday at Ain Bamabad.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has noted a significant increase in the number of African migrants arriving in Yemen, despite the ongoing conflict and recent Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The IOM reported that the number of African migrants coming yearly had tripled from roughly 27,000 in 2021 to over 90,000 in 2023.

Shabwa residents have observed a significant increase in the number of migrants entering the province in recent months. "They come in large numbers almost every day on the coast of Shabwa. Migrants who have money use a car to Attaq, whilst others who do not walk to the city," said Omer Awadh, a Yemeni officer.

The United Nations has been apprised of the incident, and the search for the missing individuals is ongoing. Last year, the UN reported that 97,000 migrants originating from the Horn of Africa arrived in Yemen. Despite the ongoing conflict in Yemen and recent Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the influx of migrants has persisted.

This tragic event highlights the perilous journey that many migrants undertake in search of a better life. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen continues to exacerbate the challenges faced by these vulnerable individuals, underscoring the urgent need for international intervention and support.

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