And Yemen, too, is on the brink of famine. Nearly seven million residents rely entirely on food aid, the World Food Program says.
On Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency, said in a statement that it had found 27 survivors from among the people thrown into the sea. They described how their smuggler had tossed them overboard as their boat approached Shabwa, on the Yemeni coast.
“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” Laurent de Boeck, the agency’s Yemen chief of mission, said in a statement. “They also told us that the smuggler has already returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route. This is shocking and inhumane.”
The migration agency reported finding 29 bodies hastily buried on the beach. Another 22 people were still missing.
The agency estimates that this year alone, 55,000 people have left the Horn of Africa and come through Yemen seeking work in the wealthy countries of the Gulf. More than half were children.
In addition to Yemen, Somalia is one of the four countries around the world at risk of famine, according to the United Nations, a determination made on the basis of specific criteria, including the number of hunger-related deaths. Some 6.7 million people require humanitarian assistance, and more than 760,000 people are displaced within the country, according to the United Nations.
Ethiopia also faces acute hunger, though it has not reached the near-famine threshold; the United Nations says at least 8.5 million Ethiopians are in need of immediate food aid and children suffer from a debilitating form of diarrhea.
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