African teen migrants 'deliberately drowned' off Yemen - IOM

A boat full of migrants

The UN says people smugglers have deliberately drowned up to 50 migrants, mostly teenagers from Somalia and Ethiopia, off the coast of Yemen.

The IOM said it had found the shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in the southern province of Shabwa after they had been buried by survivors.

The smuggler's boat approaching Yemen on Wednesday was near the Shabwa coast. The statement mentioned that the average age of the migrants was 16.

Twenty-two were missing while the rest have moved on, the IOM said.

The migration agency also released a statement saying the migrants were looking to reach other countries through Yemen. They also told the migration agency that the smuggler went back to Somalia to pick up more migrants. "This is shocking and inhumane", De Boeck added.

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IOM had earlier reported that 1,530 migrants and refugees died crossing the Mediterranean in 2017. "Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future", continued de Boeck. More than 30,000 of those migrants are under 18 and from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.

The migrants, travelling to Yemen in search of new opportunities in the Gulf, had travelled a route taken by 55,000 others from their region this year. Yemen is now going through a conflict and humanitarian crisis but the migrants go there to try to reach Europe or the Gulf states.

The war in Yemen has been nearly 8400 people dead and more than 47 000 casualties since 2015, according to the world Health Organization. A boat carrying Somali migrants was attacked in March, killing 42. Some Ethiopians have left home after months of deadly anti-government protests and a 10-month state of emergency.

More than 111,500 people landed on the country's shores past year, up from about 100,000 in 2015, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of worldwide agencies that monitors such movements in the area.