Friday, August 11, 2017

UN chief saddened by forced drownings of scores of African migrants

forced drownings of scores of African migrants
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "heart-broken" on Thursday following reports that smugglers, taking Horn of Africa migrants to Yemen, forced the victims off boats into the sea, resulting in the drowning of more than 50 migrants.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN migration agency, said in addition to the Ethiopian and Somalis lost Wednesday, another 180 migrants were forced from a boat Thursday off war-torn Yemen. Five bodies were recovered and 50 more reported missing.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, told reporters at UN Headquarters the agency had "raised the alarm over a series of deeply troubling incidents off the coast of Yemen over the past two days in which smugglers have thrown migrants from the boats into the sea."

"The secretary-general is heart-broken by this continuing tragedy," he said. "This is why he continues to stress that the international community must give priority to preventing and resolving a variety of situations which both generate mass movement and expose those already on the move to significant danger."

"We must also increase legal pathways for regular migration and offer credible alternatives to these dangerous crossings for people in need of international protection," Dujarric said.

The migrants were hoping to reach countries in the Gulf, he said. "The journey is especially hazardous, with smugglers often making fake promises to vulnerable migrants, forcing them off the boats when they fear getting caught by authorities."

"The IOM said it is providing urgent care to the surviving migrants, as well as food, water and other emergency relief," the spokesman said.

Additionally, the spokesman said the situations in the Mediterranean and in the Sahara are just as heart-breaking as 2,405 people have died or disappeared during their attempts to cross the Mediterranean.

"As reported on Tuesday, more than 265 are dead or missing traveling across the Sahara trying to reach the sea," he said.

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