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Dangerous New Trend Emerges in the Quest by African Migrants

Smugglers threw 80 migrants into the sea between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula on Wednesday, and at least 20 of them are believed to have drowned, in the third incident of its kind in less than six months, United Nations migration officials said. The smugglers had packed about 200 migrants, including children, onto a boat in Djibouti that was bound for Yemen, crossing the narrow mouth of the Red Sea. About a half-hour after leaving shore, the smugglers began shouting that there were too many people on board, and threw dozens of them overboard. At least five bodies had been pulled from the water by Wednesday night and survivors were being treated at an I.O.M. center in Djibouti. Djibouti is a tiny country, smaller in area than New Hampshire, with fewer than one million people, wedged between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea. The major city and capital, also called Djibouti, lies only about 80 miles from the Yemeni coast. In some places, the strait between the two countries narrows to less than 17 miles, making it a prime crossing location.