Migrants Forced Off Boat, 50 Drowned Near Yemen

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Yemen, although wracked by civil war, has become a destination for migrants from the Horn of Africa who are seeking jobs in wealthy Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

On top of years of fighting between the Saudi-backed government and Shi'ite Huthi rebels allied with Iran, the country is witnessing a cholera outbreak that has killed nearly 2 000 people and a looming starvation.

The passengers were mostly from Ethiopia and had an average age around 16-years-old.

Yet the IOM estimates some 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa headed for Yemen since the start of 2017, more than half of them under the age of 18. "Some people are paying as little as $100 USA, but then on route they are tortured, they are abused, their families are made aware of this and are forced to pay $1,000 or to $2,000 more".

Those who survived the incident rapidly buried the dead upon reaching the shore.

The International Red Cross said on Wednesday the breakdown in Yemen society had left humanitarian organizations treating "chronic disease that nobody should die of", such as diabetes.

The smuggler's boat approaching Yemen on Wednesday was near the Shabwa coast.

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The journey through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is particularly risky during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean.

"What it comes down to is that they know the risks, but they've got this pitch that has been sold to them by these salesmen, these absolute criminals".

She says in some cases the cost can go up to an additional $1,000 - still far below the West African route.

Many others also try to reach Europe via Libya and the Mediterranean Sea.

As per reports, more than 111,000 migrants arrived on the shores of Yemen past year and in 2015 the figure was 100,000.

Each week, IOM and its partners in the region help to evacuate people from Yemen to Djibouti and back to their home countries. Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future.

"The survivors have told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler had led them to the sea expecting to see +(representatives) of the authorities "near the coast", explains Laurent de Boeck, chief of mission of IOM in Yemen".

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