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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Tragic boat capsizing off Yemen claims dozens of lives

According to the IOM the disaster resulted in the deaths of at least 49 migrants and left 140 others missing.

On Monday, a boat carrying migrants from the Horn of Africa capsized off the coast of Yemen, leading to a tragic loss of life. The vessel, which departed from Somalia with 260 people on board, overturned near Alghareef Point in the Shabwah governorate. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the disaster resulted in the deaths of at least 49 migrants and left 140 others missing. This incident highlights the perilous conditions faced by migrants navigating this dangerous route.

Deadly Voyage

The ill-fated journey began on Sunday at around 3:00 am, when the boat left Bossaso, Somalia. Among the 260 passengers were 115 Somali nationals and 145 Ethiopians, including 31 women and six children. The migrants were aiming to traverse the 320-kilometer stretch of the Gulf of Aden to reach Yemen. Survivors recounted the harrowing experience as the overcrowded boat succumbed to the rough seas, leading to the tragic capsizing.

Read More: Djibouti boat capsize claims at least 21 lives

Immediate Aftermath and Rescue Efforts

Following the capsizing, local community members, including fishermen, quickly mobilized to assist in the recovery efforts. They played a crucial role in rescuing 71 migrants and helping to lay the deceased to rest at Ayn-Bamaabed cemetery. Despite these efforts, 140 individuals remain unaccounted for, with search and rescue operations ongoing. The IOM has deployed two mobile medical teams to provide immediate assistance to the survivors, many of whom required medical attention for trauma and injuries.

Humanitarian Response

The IOM has been at the forefront of providing aid to the survivors, including mental health support to 38 individuals. Mohammedali Abunajela, an IOM spokesperson, emphasized the need for collective action to address the urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety of migrants. “This recent tragedy is another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety and security of migrants along migration routes,” he said.

Perils of the Eastern Route

The migration route from East Africa and the Horn of Africa to Yemen is one of the most dangerous in the world. Migrants often rely on smugglers to navigate the journey, which increases their risk of human trafficking and other dangers. According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, 1,860 migrant deaths and disappearances have been recorded along this route since 2014, with nearly 500 drowning incidents.

Growing Crisis

Despite the ongoing civil war in Yemen, which has been raging for nearly a decade, the flow of migrants from the Horn of Africa continues unabated. In 2023 alone, the IOM observed more than 97,200 migrant arrivals in Yemen, a significant increase from the previous year’s figures. This migration is driven by political and economic instability, severe droughts, and other extreme weather events in countries like Ethiopia and Somalia.

Read More: Boat carrying dozens of Rohingya Muslims capsizes off Indonesian coast

The recurring tragedies on this migration route highlight the urgent need for international cooperation to address the root causes of migration and improve the safety and security of migrants. The IOM continues to advocate for better search and rescue efforts, increased support for survivors, and comprehensive measures to combat human trafficking and smuggling networks.