OBOCK, DJIBOUTI – At least 20 people have drowned after smugglers threw dozens of migrants overboard early Wednesday morning during their journey from Djibouti to Yemen, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Thursday.
The IOM said that it is the third such incident on the Gulf of Aden in six months.
Survivors receiving medical treatment at the IOM Migrant Response Centre in Obock said at least 200 migrants, including children, were aboard the vessel when it departed. Thirty minutes into the journey the smugglers forced roughly 80 people into the sea. Five bodies were recovered yesterday.
“We work closely with the authorities in Djibouti to assist migrants, but Wednesday’s tragedy is further proof that criminals continue to exploit people desperate to improve their lives for profit regardless of the consequences,” said IOM Djibouti Chief of Mission, Stephanie Daviot.
“Smugglers and human traffickers must be prosecuted for their crimes, and new migration pathways established to allow people to pursue work opportunities abroad in a safe, legal and dignified manner.”
Two similar incidents in October last year claimed the lives of at least 50 migrants.
Every year, tens of thousands of young African migrants from the region make the dangerous journey from countries like Somalia and Ethiopia to Djibouti, before boarding vessels to Yemen and traveling onwards to the Gulf nations in search of work, the IMO said in a statement.