IOM: At least 30 Africans drown off Yemen after boat capsized

The UN has said that at least 30 African refugees and migrants drowned off the coast of Yemen this week in a boat heading toward Djibouti operated by smugglers.

The Friday’s statement by the U.N. Migration Agency, International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the overcrowded boat which was carrying some 152 Somalis and Ethiopians, was heading from the al-Buraiqa coast near the Yemeni city of Aden toward Djibouti.

The smugglers are reported to have fired on passengers as they tried “to extort more money” from the migrants. Survivors reported gunfire as the boat capsized.

“Survivors of the incident have reported to U.N. and partner staff that an over-crowded boat packed with at least 152 Somalis and Ethiopians departed 23 January from the Al Buraiqa coast in Aden in a boat headed across the Gulf of Aden towards Djibouti,” IOM said in a statement. “The boat capsized amid reports of gunfire being used against the passengers.”

The IOM says Yemen’s conflict has subjected refugees and migrants to risk of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest and trafficking.