The coast guard intercepted the boat in Yemeni territorial waters, arresting three crew members and the owner of the vessel, which had come from the Horn of Africa.
The migrants were to be handed over to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees “to be returned to the country from which they embarked,” the authorities said without specifying which country.
Would-be migrants from Africa, mainly Ethiopians and Somalis fleeing poverty or violence, frequently set sail for Yemen in the hope of reaching oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
On May 31, 60 migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia along with two Yemeni crew members drowned in the worst such tragedy off the coast of Yemen this year, according to the UNHCR.
In the past five years, more than 500,000 people – mostly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis – have reached Yemen via the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea following treacherous journeys on vessels that are often overloaded.
Yemen is home to up to two million migrants, mostly illegals who entered from other countries of the Arabian Peninsula, according to unofficial estimates commonly cited by experts and humanitarian organizations.