Djibouti [Djibouti], October 5 (ANI): Eight migrants who were forcefully ejected off a boat near Djibouti by smugglers drowned, while 12 are missing, according to reports.
All the migrants were believed to be Ethiopians, returning to the Horn of Africa after being unable to reach Saudi Arabia via Yemen due to the COVID-19 border closures, Al Jazeera reported.
The journey to the Gulf Nations has become more difficult due to the coronavirus pandemic and the conflict in Yemen, because of which migrants are being forced to retreat.
"At least eight migrants have died and 12 are missing at sea after being forced off a boat by smugglers off the coast of Djibouti, Horn of Africa," International Organisation for Migration (IOM) spokesperson Yvonne Ndege said.
He added, "According to eyewitness survivors, assisted by IOM, three smugglers violently forced the young men and women off the vessel while still at sea. Smugglers are known to exploit migrants on this route in this way, many having to pay or their families having to pay large sums to facilitate travel."
Another 14 migrants survived and are receiving medical care, a statement mentioned.
Djibouti authorities took the responsibility of burying eight bodies that had washed ashore.
Ndege further warned that more tragedies could occur as hundreds of migrants are leaving Yemen every day on the precarious journey by boat across the Bab al-Mandeb strait. He said, "This tragedy is a wake-up call."
In 2017, up to 50 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia were "deliberately drowned" when a smuggler forced them into the sea off Yemen's coast, and in 2018, at least 30 refugees and migrants died when a boat capsized off Yemen, the survivors reporting gunfire, Al Jazeera wrote. (ANI)