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UN migration agency assists survivors of deadly shipwreck off Djibouti

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is offering medical care, food, shelter and psychosocial support to 33 migrants who survived a shipwreck off the coast of Djibouti on Monday, as local authorities continue search and rescue operations. 

The migrants were on a boat carrying at least 77 people from Ras al-Ara off Yemen’s coast which capsized off the coast of Djibouti, near Obock, leaving 24 dead and 20 others missing.

Just two weeks ago, a similar accident, resulting in the death of at least 38 migrants, occurred.

The occurrence of two such tragedies within a span of two weeks highlights the dangers faced by children, women, and men migrating through irregular routes, underscoring the importance of establishing safe and legal pathways for migration,” said Tanja Pacifico, IOM Chief of Mission in Djibouti.

Searching for a better life 

In both cases, it is believed that migrants were trying to return to Djibouti from Yemen after being unable to travel to Saudi Arabia for better work and other opportunities.

Each year, tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa, in particular Ethiopia and Somalia, attempt to travel through Djibouti for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf nations, but are often unsuccessful and end up stranded in Yemen.

“We must work to prevent as much as possible those circumstances where migrants’ safety and well-being are threatened and ensure that migrants are able to maintain contact with their families,” Pacifico said.

Numbers on the rise

IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has reported that 3,682 migrants have left Yemen for Djibouti since the beginning of 2024 – this is more than double the figure from last year.

Despite the dangerous and life-threatening journey, IOM’s DTM recorded about 380,000 journeys along the Eastern Corridor from Africa to countries in the Arab Peninsula which claimed the lives of 1,350 – many more deaths have gone unreported.

IOM Djibouti is continually supporting local authorities to prevent similar deaths on sea and land. The organization has also partnered with 48 other humanitarian and development groups and governments to coordinate the Regional Migrant Response Plan (MRP) which will respond to migrants’ humanitarian needs along the Eastern Route.

Pacifico noted, “IOM, as Coordinator of the UN Network on Migration, is actively working on actionable recommendations for providing humanitarian assistance to migrants in distress and addressing the plight of missing migrants and their families.”

 

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