Officials: Migrant boat capsizes off Yemen, some 200 missing


SANAA, Yemen — U.N. and Yemeni officials said Monday a boat capsized off the coast of war-torn Yemen a day earlier and some 200 migrants, mostly from the Horn of Africa, were missing.

The shipwreck Sunday was the latest sea disaster involving African migrants seeking a better life in oil-rich Gulf countries.

The boat left the East African country of Djibouti over the weekend and sank off Yemen’s Ras al-Ara area in southern Lahj province, according to Abd Rabou Mehwali, former head of the Ras al-Ara municipality and current deputy education minister of the internationally recognized government.

A U.N. migration official said the boat was carrying some 200 people, mostly Africans, and a handful of Yemenis. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were fatalities or if any migrants were rescued. But the official said those on board were missing.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to brief media.

Thousands of people each year seek to make the voyage from Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia to Yemen and on to richer Gulf countries as they flee poverty and insecurity in search of work.

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting closed borders have slowed but not stopped the flow of migrants. The International Organization for Migration said about 138,000 people made the journey in 2019 but just 37,500 did in 2020.

In April, over 40 migrants drowned after the boat they were in capsized off Djibouti.

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