22 Ethiopian migrants disappear off Yemen coast

The United Nations migration agency says 22 Ethiopia migrants are missing after being dumped in the sea off Yemen.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesperson Joel Millman said the missing people were on one of four boats that brought 602 Ethiopian men and women to the coast of Yemen’s Shabwa governorate in the past 24 hours.

“We understand that passengers on the boat had been dropped into deep water and forced to swim to shore. No bodies have been recovered but 22 remain unaccounted for,” Millman told a regular U.N. briefing in Geneva. He gave no further details of the incident.

“Despite the difficult security problems in Yemen, it’s still a migrant transit point and we’re still hearing about these reports pretty frequently,” he said.

Last year 87,000 migrants went to Yemen, mainly ferried from Djibouti.

Most of the migrants are believed to be seeking to reach richer parts of the Arabian Gulf, rather that stopping in Yemen, which has been devastated by a civil war and an economic collapse that has pushed more than eight million people on the brink of famine.

Within Yemen, more than 85,000 people have been displaced since the start of December, mainly from Hodeidah and Taizz governorates, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.