At least 49 migrants dead, 140 missing off Yemen coast, IOM says

GENEVA (Reuters) -At least 49 migrants died and 140 others were missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen, the U.N. migration agency said on Tuesday.

The vessel, which departed from Somalia and was carrying 260 migrants, among them Somalis and Ethiopians, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) statement said. Earlier, a Yemeni official had given a toll of at least 38 dead.

The boat capsized on Monday near Alghareef Point in Yemen’s Shabwah governorate. Among the dead were 31 women and six children, IOM said.

“This recent tragedy is another reminder of the urgent need to work together to address urgent migration challenges and ensure the safety and security of migrants along migration routes,” said Mohammedali Abunajela, a spokesperson for IOM.

IOM, which runs a tally of migrants who are killed or go missing on migration routes, has since 2014 recorded 1,860 migrant deaths and disappearances along the route running from East Africa and the Horn of Africa to Gulf countries.

Nearly 500 of those were caused by drowning.

IOM described the route as one of the world’s busiest and most perilous.

“Often relying on smugglers to navigate the journey, migrants are frequently at an increased risk, including of human trafficking, during the perilous boat journey to Yemen’s shores,” it said.

According to the United Nations, 97,000 migrants arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa last year.

(Reporting by Emma Farge and Gabrielle T├ętrault-FarberEditing by Madeline Chambers and Peter Graff)

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