Approximate average age of passengers on the boat was 16, UN migration agency says
About 50 Somali and Ethiopian refugees, mostly teenagers, were "deliberately" drowned on Wednesday by a human smuggler who forced 120 migrants into the sea off Yemen's coast, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.
"The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea, when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast," the U.N. migration agency's chief of mission in Yemen, Laurent de Boeck said in a statement.
"They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane," De Boeck added.
The IOM found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in the southern province of Shabwa during a routine patrol and 22 migrants are reportedly still missing.
"The approximate average age of the passengers on the boat was 16," the migration agency said.
The IOM estimates that around 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen since the beginning of the year. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under 18 and from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.