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Sanaa: In a tragic incident, a boat carrying migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia sank off the coast of Yemen, killing at least 49 people while 140 others were still missing, according to he UN’s International Organization for Migration on Tuesday. There were 31 women and six children among the deceased migrants, said the agency.

The boat was carrying some 260 Somalis and Ethiopians from the northern coast of Somalia on the 320-kilometer journey across the Gulf of Aden when it sank Monday off Yemen’s southern coast, the IOM said in a statement. It said search efforts were continuing and so far 71 had been rescued.

Yemen is a major route for migrants from the East Africa and the Horn of Africa trying to reach Gulf countries for work. Despite a nearly decadelong civil war in Yemen, the number of migrants arriving annually tripled from 2021 to 2023, soaring from about 27,000 to over 90,000, the IOM said last month. Around 380,000 migrants are currently in Yemen, according to the agency.

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

Monday’s sinking “is another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety and security of migrants along migration routes,” said IOM spokesperson Mohammedali Abunajela.

The IOM said in April that it recorded a total of 1,350 deaths on the migration route since 2014, not including this year. In 2023 alone, it said it documented at least 698 deaths on the route, including 105 lost at sea, according to CBS News. Those migrants who successfully reach Yemen often encounter further threats to their safety. The Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country has been mired in civil war for a decade.

(with AP inputs)

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