May 20, 2024

Dozens of Ethiopians die after boat capsizes off Djibouti coast

By BBC

Djibouti

At least 33 Ethiopian migrants – including an eight-year-old boy – have died after their boat capsized off the coast of Djibouti, officials have told the BBC.

They were among 77 people crossing the Red Sea from Yemen to Ethiopia, the UN’s migration agency reported.

Fishermen alerted coastguards to the tragedy on Tuesday after witnessing some of the migrants drowning.

Rescuers managed to save more than 20 people but others remain missing.

The survivors’ shock and fear was clear to see as they were brought ashore in Djibouti to the town of Godoria and taken to hospital for treatment.

They have since been repatriated to Ethiopia by the UN’s migration agency, the IOM.

Isse Iyah, a senior Djibouti coastguard official, said those who were on the capsized boat had left Yemen because life had been a greater struggle there than in their home country.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to Djibouti, Berhanu Tsegaye, expressed his condolences over the deaths on X, formerly Twitter.

“Illegal travel from Djibouti to the Middle East countries is extremely dangerous and we are constantly losing the lives of our citizens,” he added.

People fleeing the aftermath of civil war in landlocked Ethiopia frequently pass through Djibouti and Yemen towards Saudi Arabia and beyond, in search of better opportunities.

Some get stuck in Yemen, which is also in the grip of war.

Tuesday’s capsizing comes two weeks after another boat accident in the same waters saw at least 38 Ethiopians die.

According to officials, nearly 1,000 people have been recorded as dead or missing in the same area in the past decade.