Boat sinks off Yemen coast, killing 70 Ethiopian migrants

AL-MAKHA, Yemen, Dec. 7 (UPI) —AL-MAKHA, Yemen, Dec. 7 (UPI) —Strong weather sank a vessel off Yemen’s west coast, killing dozens of migrants from Africa, Yemeni officials say.The boat carried 70 Ethiopians,according to authorities in Taiz province, and it capsized in the Red Sea Saturday after encountering choppy waves and violent winds near a port in al-Makha, on Yemen’s southwestern coast.

Seen as a portal to better lives in the Middle East and Europe, Yemen is the target of tens of thousands of migrants from the war-torn Horn of Africa each year.Hundreds have diedattempting to cross the Red Sea on unreliable and overcrowded smuggler boats.

In June, 60 migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia — along with two Yemeni crew members —drowned when their vessel sankoff the Yemeni coast. The previous March,42 African migrants diedwhen their boat capsized off the coast of Beer Ali, in Yemen’s southern Shabwa province.

In October theU.N. Refugee Agencyreported more migrant deaths at sea in 2014 than in the previous three years combined. A majority of those killed were Africans seeking asylum in Yemen due to conflict, drought and lack of economic opportunity. The report notes how many smugglers overcrowd vessels and throw migrants overboard in emergencies to avoid capsizing or detection.

“There have been frequent reports of mistreatment, abuse, rape and torture and the increasingly cruel measures being adopted by smuggling rings seem to account for the increase in deaths at sea,” William Spindler, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Posted by on December 8, 2014. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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