At least 49 migrants dead and 140 missing after boat capsizes off Yemen

CAIRO – A boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 49 people and leaving another 140 missing, a UN agency said on Tuesday.

The boat was carrying about 260 Somalis and Ethiopians from Somalia’s northern coast on a 320-kilometer (200-mile) journey across the Gulf of Aden when it sank on Monday off Yemen’s southern coast, the International Organization for Migration said in a statement.

A capsized boat near the coastal town of Obock in northeastern Djibouti, Tuesday, April 9, 2024.
A boat carrying migrants has sunk off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 49 people and leaving another 140 missing. AP

71 people were rescued and the search continues, the group said, noting that the dead included 31 women and six children.

Yemen is the main route for migrants from East Africa and the Horn of Africa trying to reach the Gulf countries in search of work. Despite Yemen’s nearly decade-long civil war, the number of migrant arrivals has tripled in recent years, from about 27,000 in 2021 to more than 90,000 last year, the IOM said last month. According to the agency, there are currently about 380,000 migrants in Yemen.

To reach Yemen, migrants are transported by smugglers in often dangerous and overcrowded boats through the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden. In April, at least 62 people died in two shipwrecks off the coast of Djibouti while trying to reach Yemen. The IOM reported that at least 1,860 people were killed or missing along the route, including 480 who drowned.

Monday’s sinking “is yet another reminder of the urgent need for cooperation to address urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety of migrants on migration routes,” said IOM spokesman Mohammedali Abunajela.