At least 50 missing after Yemeni refugees 'deliberately drowned'

At least 50 missing after Yemeni refugees 'deliberately drowned'

According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM) almost 55,000 migrants have left African nations for Yemen since January.

Fifty-five migrants are missing presumed dead after the boat of 180 Ethiopian and Somali migrants was forced into the sea of the coast of Yemen by the smugglers they had paid to transport them across the Gulf of Aden.

In May and June alone, the bodies of 52 migrants including babies were found in the desert, while another 50 or so who went missing in late June are probably dead, according to the IOM.

An estimated 55,000 people have left the Horn of Africa for Yemen since January 2017, according to the IOM, in the hopes of finding better economic opportunities in Gulf countries. The smugglers reportedly returned to Somalia to continue their business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same perilous route.

"Throughout the journey, migrants had been brutally treated by the smugglers", it said in a statement that described migrants being forced to squat during the 24-36 hour journey to save space, with no access to a bathroom.

An IOM staff member speaks to surviving migrants and refugees near the shore in Yemen. Numerous boat's passengers were teenagers.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says at least 29 migrants were deliberately pushed into the sea by smugglers who did not want to get caught.

IOM and the Red Cross have recovered at least bodies of 29 bodies along the coast of Shabwa - area under control of Yemeni troops backed by USA forces.

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen's ongoing civil war.

On this route, migrants are exposed to the dangers of Yemen's conflict, with some having been killed in the war.

The IOM said it feared the incidents might mark the start of a new trend in people-smuggling that could lead to more deaths. The passengers' average age was around 16, the agency said.

In Wednesday's incident, more than 120 people were forced off the boat into the open waters just before reaching Yemen's coast.

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