Bodies wash up on Yemen coast after reports of migrant boat sinking


DUBAI (Reuters) - A number of bodies washed up at Ras al-Arah on Yemen's Red Sea coast on Monday from a suspected migrant boat that sank offshore, a local official said.

The stretch of coast is notorious for the smuggling of migrants from the Horn of Africa into Yemen.

Residents in Ras al-Arah said bodies had washed up at dawn on Monday. A boat sank around 18 nautical miles off the coast of al-Mokha, the local official said.

The perilous sea journey from Horn of Africa countries including Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Djibouti, is part of a longstanding migration route to take people north through Yemen into the rich Gulf states for work.

"IOM is verifying reports that a vessel carrying a large number of migrants from the Horn of Africa has sunk off the coast of Yemen," the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency, said on Twitter.

"IOM teams are on the ground and ready to respond to the needs of any survivors."

Drownings on the route, run by people smugglers, are commonplace.

With COVID-19 and security restrictions blocking routes into Gulf states, some migrants are even making the return journey back to the Horn of Africa out of Yemen.

Yemen has been mired in violence since a Saudi-led coalition intervened against the Houthis in 2015, with 80% of Yemen's population needing aid.

(Reporting by Mohamed Ghobari and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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