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At least 39 dead as boat carrying migrants sinks off the coast of Yemen, the UN says

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A boat carrying 260 migrants sank off the coast of Yemen on Monday, killing at least 39 people and leaving 150 others missing, the United Nations international migration agency said on Tuesday.

The International Organization for Migration said in a message posted on social media that 71 people had survived the sinking.

The nationalities of the migrants on the boat were not clear. Every year, many tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa cross the Red Sea in an attempt to reach the oil-rich Gulf to escape conflict, natural disasters or poor economic prospects.

/Credit: Getty/iStockphoto

In April, two boats sank off the coast of Djibouti just two weeks apart, killing dozens.

The IOM said at the time that it had recorded a total of 1,350 deaths on the migration route since 2014, excluding this year. By 2023 alone, at least 698 deaths would have been documented on the route, including 105 at sea.

The IOM said on Tuesday it was providing “immediate assistance to the survivors”.

Those migrants who successfully reach Yemen often face further threats to their safety. The poorest country on the Arabian Peninsula has been embroiled in civil war for ten years.

A file photo from July 2019 shows Ethiopian migrants walking along the shores of Ras al-Ara, Lahj, Yemen, after disembarking from a boat. According to the UN immigration agency, a boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Yemen on June 10, 2024, killing at least 39 people and leaving dozens of others missing. /Credit: Nariman El-Mofty/AP

Many are trying to reach Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries where they can work as laborers or domestic workers.

In August, Human Rights Watch accused Saudi border guards of killing “at least hundreds” of Ethiopians between March 2022 and June 2023 they attempted to enter the Gulf Kingdom from Yemen, in some cases using explosive weapons. Riyadh dismissed the group’s findings as “unfounded and not based on reliable sources.”

The IOM said last month that despite the many dangers of the migration route, the number of migrants arriving in Yemen “has tripled between 2021 and 2023, from around 27,000 to over 90,000.”

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