- Title: IOM fears 55 more migrants drowned after being forced from boat off Yemen
- Date: 10th August 2017
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (AUGUST 10, 2017) (REUTERS) IOM YEMEN CHIEF OF MISSION, LAURENT DE BOECK, READING DOCUMENTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) IOM YEMEN CHIEF OF MISSION, LAURENT DE BOECK, SAYING: "The team again, in the same area, was patrolling this morning and they found another boat or other survivors of the exactly the same modus operandi. They spoke about 150 people this time, so a bit more than yesterday. There were less people, 22 we met, or 23, they were the same age, same profile, but they were dropped in the sea closer to the shores so more apparently survived. So although we met few of them, they reported that 50 others have reached the shores but they left quickly." DE BOECK TALKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) IOM YEMEN CHIEF OF MISSION, LAURENT DE BOECK, SAYING: "So there were only, it's already too many, but five bodies today, but there are 50 others [migrants] that we absolutely don't know where they are, they're certainly still in the sea, and we have doubts that they will be alive still." DE BOECK'S HAND (SOUNDBITE) (English) IOM YEMEN CHIEF OF MISSION, LAURENT DE BOECK, SAYING: "So it is the first time. It's maybe linked to the fact that there is reinforcement of control at the borders and that smugglers are panicking but the reaction is actually worse, because instead of preventing them entering they basically continue their business by killing people." DE BOECK TALKING / DE BOECK'S HANDS (SOUNDBITE) (English) IOM YEMEN CHIEF OF MISSION, LAURENT DE BOECK, SAYING: "We are starting now working with companies, private companies, shipping companies, to look at how we can do something in rescuing, but without this cooperation it's quite limited in terms of what we can do for arresting them, to see whether they have in each of the countries, the existing legal framework to put them in jail, once arrested." DE BOECK TALKING TO JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (English) IOM YEMEN CHIEF OF MISSION, LAURENT DE BOECK, SAYING: "We have indeed thousands coming every month. One measure which had a good impact in a way, is the fact that the Saudi Arabia Kingdom has announced that they will deport more than five million irregular migrants in their country. This, combined with Ramadan season has an effect in diminishing the numbers of entries for that period. It still seems to remain but now this first situation yesterday and today, we see that there is a change in the process, so we are facing another issue than numbers."
- Embargoed: 24th August 2017 15:13
- Keywords: 55 migrants presumed to have drowned the U.N. migration agency smugglers IOM
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM AND SHABWA PROVINCE, YEMEN
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM AND SHABWA PROVINCE, YEMEN
- Country: Yemen
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0026TKQK3R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS GRAPHIC PICTURES
Some 180 young Ethiopian and Somali migrants, many weakened by hunger and drought in their home countries, were forced from a boat into rough seas off Yemen by smugglers on Thursday (August 10) and 55 were presumed drowned, the U.N. migration agency's Chief of Mission in Yemen said.
It was the second such incident in as many days off Shabwa province in southern Yemen, where 50 teenage African migrants were "deliberately drowned" on Wednesday by a smuggler who forced 120 passengers off his boat, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
Smugglers were pushing migrants into the sea away from the mainland for fear of government boats, amid reinforced border controls, or to avoid encountering armed groups on shore in the war-torn country.
After migrants were forced into the seas on Thursday, the IOM counted five bodies. But 50 people were still missing and IOM's Chief of Mission in Yemen Laurent de Boeck told Reuters he feared none of them had survived.
Already this year 55,000 migrants have taken the hazardous route from the Horn of Africa to Yemen to seek opportunity in the Gulf region, IOM said.
The route is popular because it is cheaper than others, but when they arrive migrants often fall victims to abuse. De Boeck said that without international cooperation and a legal framework, it would be very difficult to prosecute the smugglers, even if they were arrested.
Yemen itself is riven by a two-year civil war in which forces loyal to the Saudi-backed government are pitted against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
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