African migrants face death at sea in Yemen

African migrants face death at sea in Yemen

According to UN data, the number of Africans who perished off the Yemeni coast this year exceeds previous three years

Twenty-four Ethiopian migrants drowned off Yemen’s western coast this week [AP]

Sanaa – Yemen has witnessed a considerable increase in the number of African migrants and asylum-seekers arriving in 2014 despite growing insecurity in the country, UN officials have said.

“[In 2014], over 82,000 people have reached Yemen’s shores from the Horn of Africa, compared to 65,000 in 2013,”  Nick Stanton, a communications officer with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Yemen, told Al Jazeera.

The drowning of 24 Ethiopian migrants off Yemen’s western coast on Monday highlighted the plight African migrants are facing in Yemen. In a similar incident one month ago, a boat loaded with migrants shipwrecked off the same area, the country’s coastguard said.

In a statement posted to the Interior Ministry’s official website, the coastguard said sea guards found the bodies of the migrants strewn across the shore of the Souida region, in the Makha district of Taiz province, and began seeking their identities. Earlier this month, the ministry said 70 African nationals died off the same coast when their boat collapsed due to strong wind and tidal waves.

The number of Africans who perished off Yemen’s coast this year is bigger than the last three years combined, the UN said. In October, 64 migrants and three crew members died when their vessel, sailing from Somalia, sank in the Gulf of Aden. The yearly tally for 2014 reached 223, exceeding the combined total for the previous three years of 179, according to UN figures.


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