Home World News More than 64 Migrants Feared Dead in Yemen Shipwreck

More than 64 Migrants Feared Dead in Yemen Shipwreck

Two migrants sit by the sea in Somalia, in anticipation of the journey. Photo: IOM/Ismail Salad Osman

More than 64 people are missing and feared dead after the vessel they were traveling in capsized off the coast of Yemen on Sunday (12/11).  

The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) team in Yemen reports the tragic incident unfolded between Al-Hajjajah and Ghareerah in the Bab-Al-Mandeb Strait. The vessel, carrying approximately 90 migrants, including 60 women, was en route to Yemen from the coast of Djibouti. A total of 26 survivors were rescued by the Yemeni Coast Guard.  The sinking is blamed on overloaded capacity and engine failure exacerbated by strong seasonal winds.  IOM is collaborating with partners and relevant authorities to gather more information about this incident.

Out of the 867 deaths recorded on the Horn of Africa–Yemen crossing by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project in 2022, at least 795 people lost their lives on the route between Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These numbers are almost certainly an undercount of the true death toll. In August, more than 24 migrants were reported missing and believed dead following a shipwreck off the coast of Djibouti.

“This tragedy highlights the pressing need for global cooperation in establishing safer migration pathways,” said Matt Huber, Acting Chief of Mission of IOM Yemen. “We urge our partners to collaborate closely with IOM to enhance support for migrants in Yemen, address the root causes behind their decision to embark on these dangerous journeys, and collectively work towards safer and more humane support for migrants.”

This latest disaster serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by migrants who undertake perilous journeys in search of safety and better livelihood opportunities. Strategically positioned on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen serves as a crucial transit country for migrants from the Horn of Africa, primarily Ethiopians travelling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or other Gulf nations in search of work.

Many migrants arrive in Yemen unaware of the abuses and challenges they might face on the way. Those who survive the perilous journey at sea frequently fall prey to traffickers who seize control of almost every aspect of their trip.

The dire situation leaves many migrants struggling to access basic services, placing them at increased risk of human rights abuses, including gender-based violence, exploitation, and physical abuse. As challenges mount, urgent collaborative efforts are imperative to address pressing humanitarian needs and ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable migrants in Yemen. From January to October 2023, IOM’s DTM recorded over 93,000 migrant arrivals in Yemen, surpassing the total of roughly 73,000 arrivals for all of 2022.

In 2022, IOM has supported more than 75,000 migrants with humanitarian aid, offering shelter, healthcare, food, water and protection services in Yemen. Over 6,200 migrants have been assisted with voluntary humanitarian flights for their return home in 2023.

IOM’s humanitarian assistance and protection services in response to the needs of the migrants are aligned with the Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) for the Horn of Africa and Yemen. The MRP aims to address the needs of migrants in vulnerable situations and host communities in countries situated along the Eastern Migration Route, located between the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

To reduce the risks of irregular migration, IOM urges states to focus on regional approaches to improve migration governance to render assistance to people regardless of their migration status, and to provide regular migration pathways to ensure safe migration for all.

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