A boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 49 people, according to the UN immigration agency.

A boat carrying 260 migrants sank off the coast of Yemen on Monday, killing at least 49 people and leaving 140 others missing, the UN’s international migration agency said on Tuesday.

According to a press release from the International Organization for Migration, 71 people survived the sinking. Most required minor care, and eight were taken to hospital for treatment, the group said. The rescued survivors included six children, and the fatalities included another six children and 31 women. Search and rescue missions were ongoing, but IOM noted that a shortage of patrol boats, exacerbated by the current conflict, was challenging their operations.

According to IOM, the boat contained 115 Somali nationals and 145 Ethiopians.

Every year, tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa set off across the Red Sea, trying to reach the oil-rich Persian Gulf, fleeing conflict, natural disasters or poor economic prospects.


In April, two boats sank off the coast of Djibouti just two weeks apart, killing dozens.

IOM reported then that since 2014, excluding this year, it had recorded a total of 1,350 deaths along the migration route. It reported that in 2023 alone, it documented at least 698 deaths on this route, including 105 deaths at sea.

IOM said Tuesday it was “providing immediate assistance to survivors.”

Migrants who manage to reach Yemen often face further threats to their safety. It was the poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula plunged into civil war for a decade.

A July 2019 file photo shows Ethiopian migrants walking along the banks of Ras al-Ara in Lahj, Yemen, after disembarking from a boat. A boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen on June 10, 2024, killing at least 39 people and leaving dozens more missing, according to the U.N. immigration agency.

Nariman El-Mofty/AP

Many are trying to reach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, where they can work as laborers or domestic workers.

In August, Human Rights Watch accused Saudi border guards of killing “at least hundreds” of Ethiopians attempted to enter the Gulf kingdom from Yemen between March 2022 and June 2023, in some cases using explosive weapons. Riyad dismissed the group’s findings as “baseless and not based on credible sources.”

Human Rights Watch says Saudi border guards have killed and maimed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants

Last month, the IOM reported that despite many dangers along the migration route, the number of migrants arriving in Yemen “tripled between 2021 and 2023, rising rapidly from about 27,000 to more than 90,000.”