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Dozens dead, missing after migrant boat sinks off Djibouti

April 23, 2024

It is the latest tragedy on a route that has become popular among thousands of migrants trying to reach Gulf countries from the Horn of Africa.

38 migrants died in early April when their boat capsized near Djibouti
Tens of thousands of African migrants brave the "Eastern Route" across the Red Sea and through Yemen to try to reach Saudi Arabia and beyondImage: International Organization for Migration/AP/picture alliance

At least 16 people have died after a boat they were traveling in from Yemen capsized off the coast of Djibouti, the United Nations' International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the IOM wrote that "Tragedy as boat capsizes off Djibouti coast with 77 migrants on board including children," adding that at least 28 people were missing.

The Ethiopian Ambassador to Djibouti Berhanu Tsegaye, wrote, on X that 33 people survived the disaster. Local authorities were assisting IOM with search and rescue operations.

Tsegaye wrote the boat was carrying Ethiopian migrants from Yemen and that the accident occurred on Monday night off Godoria in northeastern Djibouti.

Accident two weeks after a similar incident that killed 38 migrants

Monday's accident came some two weeks after another boat, also carrying a majority of Ethiopian migrants, also capsized off Djibouti.  

At least 38 migrants died in a boat carrying 66 migrants.

The IOM says every year, tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa, particularly Ethiopia and Somalia, leave the continent via Djibouti in the hope of finding work in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf nations.

However, many are unsuccessful, and thousands are stranded in Yemen where they experience extremely harsh conditions.

According to IOM figures, around 100,000 people, almost half of them women and children, made the dangerous journey across the coast from Djibouti to Yemen in 2023.

The IOM says the route is dangerous as traffickers target migrants, and they face kidnap, arbitrary arrest, and forced recruitment into warring groups, particularly in Yemen.

rm/lo (AFP, dpa)