At least 49 die and 140 are missing after migrant boat sinks off Yemen’s coast, UN agency says

CAIRO, 12 Jun (AP) — A boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 49 people and leaving another 140 missing, the U.N. agency said Tuesday.

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

Seventy-one people have been rescued and the search is ongoing, the group said, noting that 31 women and six children are among the dead.

Yemen is a major route for migrants from East Africa and the Horn of Africa trying to reach Gulf countries for work. Despite a nearly decade-long civil war in Yemen, the number of arriving migrants has tripled in recent years, from about 27,000 in 2021 to more than 90,000 last year, the IOM said last month. About 380,000 migrants are currently in Yemen, according to the agency.

To reach Yemen, migrants are taken by smugglers on often dangerous, overcrowded boats across the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden. In April, at least 62 people died in two shipwrecks off the coast of Djibouti as they tried to reach Yemen. The IOM said at least 1,860 people have died or disappeared along the route, including 480 who drowned.

Monday’s sinking “is another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety and security of migrants along migration routes,” said IOM spokesperson Mohammedali Abunajela.