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Ethiopian migrants at an IOM shelter in Aden Ethiopian migrants at an IOM shelter in Aden 

UNICEF/IOM: Children among those drowned off Djibouti

A ship carrying migrants capsizes off the coast of Djibouti in yet another tragedy involving men, women and children fleeing conflict in search of a better life. The International Organization for Migration, and the UN Children’s agency UNICEF confirm over a dozen children lost their lives.

By Vatican News staff reporter

The International Organization for Migration, and the UN Children’s agency UNICEF confirmed that at least 16 children and 27 adults died after a migrant ship, capsized off the coast of Djibouti in the early hours of Monday morning.

Women and children

The ship was carrying at least 60 migrants seeking to return home to the Horn of Africa after fleeing  war torn Yemen.

Among the dead are eight boys, eight girls, and at least one pregnant woman. A seven-year-old boy is among the survivors rescued from the waters.

This tragedy is the second such incident involving the loss of life of migrant children and women in just over a month.

In early March, 80 migrants, including minors, were thrown overboard by traffickers in the same waters.

Data from 2021 shows that rising numbers of refugees and migrants, including increasingly women and young children, are willing to face the dangers of the sea route to the Arabian Peninsula, but also from the coast of Yemen to Djibouti, despite the risks.

Deep concern

Stephanie Daviot, IOM's Head of Mission in Djibouti, said they are “deeply concerned about the senseless loss of innocent young lives, in this latest migrant tragedy at sea.”

“We call on our partners and donors to come together to reduce the enormous risks faced by migrants trying to return to Djibouti and those trying to reach Yemen to access the Gulf countries, to prevent further loss of life," she said

Meanwhile, UNICEF representative Melva Johnson, also voiced her concern about the loss of life and the huge risks being taken by migrants.  She said, “we will continue to support child care with our partners. Most importantly, we must continue our actions to ensure the safety and well-being of migrant children."

The IOM and UNICEF are already working with Djibouti authorities and plan to meet jointly with local authorities to offer support and discuss further measures to prevent such senseless tragedies.

16 April 2021, 13:11