Boat Goes DOWN – 49 Dead, 140 Missing

In early 2020, sources reported that war-torn Yemen had become a critical pathway for migrants traveling from African countries seeking work in Gulf nations like Saudi Arabia. The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) noted that 150,000 migrants arrived in Yemen in 2018 — a staggering 50% increase from the previous year. In recent years, this number has tripled, underscoring a growing crisis.

On June 11, the IOM reported a devastating incident: a boat carrying about 260 Somalis and Ethiopians sank off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 49 people, including 31 women and six children. Tragically, another 140 individuals are still missing. The boat had traveled approximately 200 miles from Somalia and was attempting to cross the perilous Gulf of Aden when it went down. Rudum District Director Hadi Al-Khurma told Reuters that “fishermen and residents” managed to save 78 migrants, while rescuers continue to search for more survivors.

This tragic event is a harsh reminder of the risks and dangers that these migrants face. The journey from Africa to Yemen is fraught with peril, and the increasing number of people making this trek reflects both the desperation of those fleeing and the lack of viable alternatives.

According to the IOM, nearly 2,000 people have either died or disappeared while attempting this journey. About a quarter of these casualties resulted from drowning. IOM spokesperson Mohammedali Abunajela described the tragedy as a “reminder of the urgent need to work together” on migration issues to ensure safer conditions for those traveling “along migration routes.” He highlighted the vulnerability of migrants who rely on smugglers, making them easy targets for human trafficking and other abuses. Abunajela expressed his condolences to the “victims and their families” and committed to continuing rescue efforts.

The recent sinking is not just a tragedy but a call to action. It’s a stark illustration of the human cost of migration policies that fail to address the root causes of migration and ensure safe passage for those seeking a better life.

Survivors from the incident reported that there were 115 Somali nationals and 145 Ethiopians on board, departing from Bossaso in mid-afternoon on June 9. The vessel capsized the next day. Of the 71 survivors, only eight required additional medical attention, while the majority were treated onsite for minor wounds. Psychologists provided mental health support to 38 migrants in need.

The IOM’s tracking unit recorded over 97,200 migrants arriving in Yemen in 2023, a 33% increase from the previous year. Economic instability, droughts, and extreme weather conditions in some African countries have driven migrants to leave their homelands in search of survival.

This crisis highlights the broader issues of economic disparity and environmental challenges that push people to undertake such dangerous journeys. It’s a call for more effective international cooperation and humane policies that address these underlying issues and provide safer pathways for migrants.

As the world grapples with migration crises in various regions, the recent tragedy off the coast of Yemen underscores the urgent need for comprehensive solutions that prioritize human life and dignity.