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UN accuses people traffickers of drowning migrants off Yemeni coast

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By Robert Hackwill
UN accuses people traffickers of drowning migrants off Yemeni coast

Things could hardly get any worse in war-torn Yemen, but at least 55 people have been killed and many more are missing after people traffickers threw migrants into the sea to escape arrest.

In the last two days some 300 migrants have been abandoned to drown, with bodies being washed up onto the beaches. Most of the victims are Somalis and Ethiopians.

“The team again, in the same area, was patrolling this morning and they found another boat or other survivors of the exactly the same modus operandi. […] they were the same age, same profile, but they were dropped in the sea closer to the shores so more apparently survived,” said the UN’s Head of Mission in Yemen, Laurent De Boeck.

Fifty people died on Wednesday in a similar incident off the coast near Shabwa, and more keep coming says the UN.

“It ‘s the first time we have seen this. It’s maybe linked to the fact that there is reinforcement of control at the borders and that smugglers are panicking but the reaction is actually worse, because instead of preventing them entering they basically continue their business by killing people,” adds De Boeck.

Most of the migrants appear to be heading for the rich Gulf states, with Yemen the easiest transit point, but with cholera raging there it seems it is a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire for these luckless people fleeing war zones and poverty.