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Daily Briefing: Eight Migrants Dead, 12 Missing While Trying to Reach Djibouti

At least eight migrants have died and 12 are missing at sea after being forced off a boat by smugglers off the coast of Djibouti, Horn of Africa. More than 30 people on board had been attempting to return to East Africa from Yemen.

The United Nations migration agency says eight bodies washed ashore and were buried by the authorities in Djibouti. While 14 survived the incident and 12 others are missing after forced off the boat by smugglers off Djibouti’s coast. The survived migrants are receiving medical care, reports noted.

 

International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that migrants were all believed to be Ethiopians returning to the Horn of Africa after failing to reach Saudi Arabia via Yemen due to COVID-19 border closures.

Hundreds of migrants leave Yemen every day on the precarious voyage by boat across the Bab al-Mandeb strait. The pandemic and the conflict in Yemen have made the journey to Gulf nations more dangerous, and some migrants have turned back.

Some 14,000 African migrants are stranded in Yemen trying to return home after being expelled by Saudi Arabia as part of measures to control the coronavirus pandemic. The IOM said some 2,000 migrants have arrived in Djibouti from Yemen in the past three weeks.

Smugglers are known to exploit migrants on this route in this way, many having to pay or their families having to pay large sums to facilitate travel. In 2017, up to 50 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia were “deliberately drowned” when a smuggler forced them into the sea off Yemen’s coast. And in 2018, at least 30 migrants and refugees died when a boat capsized off Yemen, with survivors reporting gunfire.

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