At least 49 migrants die, 140 missing after boat capsizes off Yemen coast

CAIRO – A boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen. At least 49 people were killed and another 140 are missing, the UN agency said on Tuesday.

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

A capsized boat is seen near the coastal town of Obock in northeastern Djibouti on Tuesday, April 9, 2024.
A boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen. At least 49 people died and 140 others are missing. AP

The group said 71 people had been rescued and the search was ongoing. Among the dead were 31 women and six children.

Yemen is a key route for migrants from East Africa and the Horn of Africa trying to reach Gulf states for work. Despite a civil war that has lasted nearly a decade in Yemen, the number of arriving migrants has tripled in recent years, from about 27,000 in 2021 to over 90,000 last year, the IOM said last month. There are currently about 380,000 migrants in Yemen, according to the agency.

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

The sinking of the ship on Monday was “another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address pressing migration challenges and ensure the safety of migrants along migration routes,” said IOM spokesman Mohammedali Abunajela.