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Yemen: UN fears many dead after fire in Sanaa migrant detention centre

Houthis criticised the UN for not deporting migrants, thought to be mainly Ethiopians, detained in the centre
Ethiopians in 2018 waiting to be repatriated back to Djibouti from Yemen's Hodeidah (AFP)

Eight people are confirmed dead after a migrant detention centre in Sanaa caught fire on Sunday, with the United Nations fearing that at least 30 people have been killed in the incident. 

It remains unclear what caused the fire, but the facility is understood to hold mainly Ethiopian migrants trying to cross into Saudi Arabia for work. 

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) regional director Carmela Godeau confirmed that migrants and guards died in Sunday's fire.

Smugglers threw scores of people into the sea en route to Yemen, UN says
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"This is just one of the many dangers that migrants have faced during the past six years of the crisis in Yemen,"  Godeau said on Twitter. 

Houthi officials in Sanaa blamed the IOM for the incident and said they were responsible for the fire. 

The militant group, which controls the Yemeni capital, said the IOM had failed to house the migrants and not helped to deport them. 

Thousands of people cross from East Africa to Yemen by sea, in the hope of reaching Saudi Arabia through its land border with Yemen. 

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the border has been closed, leaving thousands stranded in Yemen. 

Last week, the IOM said that smugglers had thrown scores of people into the sea en route to Yemen. 

The UN agency told MEE that smugglers had thrown at least 80 people, including many children, off the boat after it became overloaded. 

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