OBOCK, 4 March 2021 – At least 20 migrants perished Wednesday after human traffickers on a boat pushed 80 people overboard along the coast of Obock in Djibouti.
The migrants were en route to Yemen, according to the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Thousands of African migrants use Yemen as a transit route on their way to the Gulf countries, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, said IOM regional director for East and Horn of Africa, Mohammed Abdiker.
Wednesday’s tragedy was the third in the last six months, claiming over 70 lives, Abdiker said in a tweet.
The boat had left Oulebi, Djibouti at about 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, with 200 migrants, including women and children, Anadolu Agency reported Wednesday.
Survivors explained that they were only half an hour into the journey when the smugglers judged that the boat was overloaded and threw at least 80 passengers overboard, according to the IOM.
“The smugglers started shouting there were too many people on board” as they toss migrants overboard, said Yvonne Ndege, IOM regional spokesperson.
Five bodies have been recovered so far, she added.
“The migrants, mainly Ethiopians and Somalis, try to reach Saudi Arabia in search of jobs after passing through Yemen,” Nadege told Anadolu Agency.
Thousands of African migrants are stranded in Yemen and “many are languishing in detention centers,” Ndege added.