Up to 50 African migrants 'deliberately drowned' by smugglers, United Nations says

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At least 56 people have drowned over the past 24 hours, and dozens remain missing, after human traffickers forced 300 African migrants off two Yemen-bound boats and into the sea.

Twelve people are still missing after the drownings on Thursday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Survivors - all Ethiopian and Somali migrants - managed to make their way to Shabwa, a southern province along Yemen's Arabian Sea coastline, the International Organization for Migration said.

IOM teams, working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, found the bodies of 29 migrants in shallow graves along the Shabwa coast.

In both cases, most migrants were from Ethiopia and Somalia, the IOM said.

The migrants on this route were heading to countries in the Gulf via war-torn Yemen. The passengers' average age was around 16, the agency said.

"The suffering of migrants on this migration route is enormous".

Some 180 Ethiopian and Somali were forced into rough seas off Yemen by smugglers and 55 of them are presumed to have drowned, the United Nations migration agency has said. They also told the migration agency that the smuggler went back to Somalia to pick up more migrants.

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The military used a Chinook helicopter to survey the steep ravine and photograph the vehicle . The consulate has expressed frustration for how long the recovery has taken.

The human smugglers have been forcing hundreds of refugees off of boats in order to avoid arrest by officials in Yemen.

They also provided medical care to 27 surviving migrants who had stayed on the beach. More than 30,000 of them are under the age of 18 and from Somalia or Ethiopia.

The IOM said it feared the incidents might mark the start of a new trend in people-smuggling that could lead to more deaths. A third of them are estimated to be women.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of global agencies that monitors migration in the area. "And they have no choice", Mr de Boeck told the AP.

Migrants travelling from Djibouti pay about $150, while migrants travelling from northern Somalia pay between $200 and $250 because the route to Yemen is longer.

The conflict itself is a deadly risk.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen's shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of worldwide agencies that monitors migration in the area.

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