At least 42 migrants have died after a boat they were travelling in from Yemen capsized off the coast of Djibouti, East Africa, during the early hours of Monday morning, the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.
The IOM’s Regional Director for East and the Horn of Africa, Mohammed Abdiker, also tweeted Tuesday that “grim pictures” of “children’s bodies ashore” have now emerged. A tweet from Abdiker earlier said that at least 16 children (8 boys and 8 girls) were among the dead.
A press release from the IOM on Tuesday said that the 60 “migrants were being transported by people smugglers” from Yemen to Djibouti and that this was the second tragedy of this nature “in just over a month.”
Last month’s tragedy saw smugglers throw 80 people overboard due to overcrowding, causing at least 20 people to drown, the press release said.
“Every year, tens of thousands of young African migrants from the region make the dangerous journey from countries like Somalia and Ethiopia through Djibouti and Yemen in search for work in the Gulf,” according to the press release.
The cause of the capsize remains unclear although many journeys are currently “being undertaken aboard unseaworthy vessels by migrants desperate to return home on a near daily basis.”
In spite of the dangers “the number of migrants arriving in Djibouti continues to increase,” the IOM said.
“In March, over 2,343 migrants arrived from Yemen, compared to 1,900 in February. Most were trying to head home to Ethiopia and Somalia.”
The incessant conflict has left “tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa” trapped in Yemen with “many living in dangerous conditions, usually without access to food, shelter, medical care and security,” the IOM said.
Migrants keen to return home are forced to pay people smugglers “large sums of money to facilitate” their risky journeys home, it added.
In Yemen alone over 6,000 people have registered for Voluntary Humanitarian Return (VHR) assistance to get home with the IOM launching a $99 million appeal in March to help meet the needs of migrants in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of the International Organization for Migration.