Twenty-two Ethiopian migrants are missing after being dumped at sea off Yemen, according to the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
IOM spokesman Joel Millman said those missing were on one of four boats that brought 602 Ethiopian men and women to the coast of Yemen’s Shabwa governorate in a 24 hour period.
“We understand passengers on the boat were dropped into deep water and forced to swim to shore. No bodies have been recovered but 22 remain unaccounted for,” Millman told a UN briefing in Geneva. He gave no further details of the incident.
“Despite difficult security problems in Yemen, it’s still a migrant transit point and we’re still hearing reports pretty frequently,” he said.
Last year 87,000 migrants went to Yemen, mainly ferried from Djibouti.
Most are thought to be heading for richer parts of the Arabian Gulf rather than staying in Yemen, devastated by a civil war and an economic collapse that has pushed more than eight million people to the brink of famine.
In Yemen, more than 85,000 people have been displaced since the start of December, mainly from Hodeidah and Taizz governorates, UN refugee agency UNHCR said.
“Current military escalations on the west coast are leading to hundreds of people having to flee their homes on a daily basis,” UNHCR spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly said.
Most displaced people were being hosted by relatives or friends, trapped inside homes or in caves as ground clashes, aerial bombardment and sniper fire rage around them, she said.
“In addition to new displacements from the western coast, UNHCR is also observing a spike in new displacement from other frontline areas, including Yemen’s border governorates of Al Jawf and Hajjah, also Shabwa in the east,” she said.