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Smuggler 'pushed' migrants off boat, killing dozens

Smuggler 'pushed' migrants off boat, killing dozens”

At least 50 migrants drowned after a smuggler forced them into rough seas off Yemen, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

SBS World News spoke to Mr de Boeck shortly before the IOM reported 180 Ethiopian and Somali migrants were forced into the sea, with 55 presumed dead: the second incident in two days.

"Smugglers know the situation is risky for them and they could be shot at, so they drop them near the shore", she said.

The war in Yemen has left over 8 300 people dead and displaced millions since March 2015, but the country continues to draw migrants from the Horn of Africa seeking work in the prosperous Gulf countries further north. More than 30,000 of them are under the age of 18 and from Somalia or Ethiopia.

"Boats are making this journey all the time where people are being abused and raped on route so that their families will pay more..."

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The average age of those on board was 16.

At least 22 migrants remained missing, the IOM said.

Laurent de Boeck, the IOM's chief of mission in Yemen, told The Associated Press on Thursday that some of the migrants trying to reach Yemen "are not aware at all that there is a war".

Strong waves in the Indian Ocean at this time of year make the crossing especially unsafe.

After allegedly forcing people off the boat, it's believed it turned around and returned to Somalia.

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After the smugglers dumped their human cargo, she says they turned back to Somalia to pick up more people and bring them back on the extremely risky, deadly voyage.

About a third of those forced into the sea when the smugglers thought they saw authority figures on the beach were women. "And they have no choice", de Boeck told the AP.

"They have some family, or others, who've succeeded and reported back home that it's easy to find a job". "They are between 12 and 25 years old".

The route is significantly more affordable than the West Africa route through Libya and onto Europe.

In a statement, the International Organization for Migration described the drownings in the Arabian Sea as "shocking and inhumane".

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