Over 30 Migrants Drown After Boat Capsizes

(Photo by Carlos Gil/Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A boat operated by human smugglers capsized off the coast of Djibouti, leading to the deaths of at least 34 on board, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Monday.

It is believed around 60 people were on the vessel when it capsized early Monday, but the IOM did not provide further details on how the incident occurred, according to a press release. The smuggled migrants were being transported from Yemen, but the migrants’ country of origin remains unclear, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Migration-connected drownings are not uncommon off the coast of Djibouti, and the region writ large. The incidents typically involve economic migrants from Ethiopia or Somalia attempting to escape poverty by finding work in one of the Persian Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, according to the IOM. Many of these migrants have been stranded in Yemen because of coronavirus restrictions.

“They were so desperate to leave Yemen they put their lives back into hands of unscrupulous smugglers,” said IOM spokeswoman in Yemen Olivia Headon, according to the AP.

Human smugglers threw 80 people overboard in transit from Djibouti to Yemen in March, causing at least 20 of them to drown, according to the press release. In October 2020, a similar incident occurred killing eight migrants, the AP reported. (RELATED: At Least 20 African Migrants Dead After Boat Headed To Italy Sinks In Mediterranean)

“Despite the dangers, the number of migrants arriving in Djibouti continues to increase. In March, over 2,343 migrants arrived from Yemen, compared to 1,900 in February. Most were trying to head home to Ethiopia and Somalia,” the press release stated.

“IOM is working with the Djiboutian authorities, the humanitarian community, and donors to end this suffering and save lives,” said Stephanie Daviot, IOM Djibouti chief of mission.