UN's Migration Agency Says Migrants Were Pushed From Boats

The IOM says about 55,000 people have left Horn of Africa nations for Yemen since January

The tragedy occurred early Wednesday morning local time and was discovered by staff from the U.N.'s International Organization for Migration later that day when they were patrolling a beach in Shabwa, a Yemeni governorate along the Arabian Sea.

People who survived the traumatic ordeal reported to authorities that human smugglers forced them into the sea just before reaching Yemen's shores.

Only five bodies have been recovered from Thursday's incident, with 50 reported missing, presumed dead.

There were "many women and children among those who died and those who are still missing", he noted, adding that the passengers' average age was around 16.

According to survivors' testimonies, the smuggler pushed them to the sea after he saw men he perceived as "authority types". Most of those drowned were teenagers.

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Twenty-five people were being treated for injuries on a beach on Yemen's Red Sea coast, the United Nations migration agency told AFP.

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen's ongoing civil war.

After the smugglers dumped their human cargo, she says they turned back to Somalia to pick up more people and bring them back on the extremely risky, deadly voyage.

Smugglers were pushing migrants into the sea away from the mainland for fear of government boats, amid reinforced border controls, or to avoid encountering armed groups on shore in the war-torn country.

The journey through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden is particularly unsafe during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean.

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But economic and environmental factors in Somalia and Ethiopia, where most of the migrants come from, have left young people feeling there is no future for them at home.

Laurent de Boeck, the IOM's chief of mission in Yemen, told The Associated Press on Thursday that some of the migrants trying to reach Yemen "are not aware at all that there is a war".

It says the journey is particularly risky at this time of year due to high winds in the Indian Ocean.

Despite conflict and a dire humanitarian situation, Yemen is still seen by many Africans as a gateway to the rich Gulf states or Europe, and thousands make their way there every year in crowded boats.

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