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Up to 50 migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen, UN says

10 August 2017

The smuggler allegedly pushed the migrants into the water when they saw a boat belonging to authorities approaching.

At least 29 teenagers were deliberately drowned by a people smuggler in Yemen, the UN's migration agency says.

The IOM found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in the southern province of Shabwa during a routine patrol and 22 migrants are reportedly still missing. The passengers' average age was around 16, the agency said.

Laurent de Boeck, IOM's chief of mission in Yemen The migrants were travelling between Somalia and Yemen.

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The IOM reports that 60,521 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea this year, with over 80 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Yemen is now going through a conflict and humanitarian crisis but the migrants go there to try to reach Europe or the Gulf states.

However, the IOM warned that the deadliest season is starting right now.

"This is shocking and inhumane", Mr de Boeck said.

IOM officials spoke with 27 survivors who reported that a further 42 people had survived but had already left the beach, she said. They also told the migration agency that the smuggler went back to Somalia to pick up more migrants.

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The IOM estimates 55,000 migrants left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen since January. The migrants had been hoping to reach countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen. It is estimated that a third of those who undertake this perilous route are women.

The conflict itself is a deadly risk. In Ethiopia, tens of thousands have abandoned their homes in search of relief from a 10-month state of emergency imposed to suppress ongoing anti-government protests.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of worldwide agencies that monitors migration in the area.

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Up to 50 migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen, UN says