September 1, 2009

Ten Dead in Yemen Boat Smuggling Tragedy

Ten dead in Yemen smuggling boat tragedy
(AFP) – 5 hours ago

GENEVA — Ten people drowned and six others are missing, feared dead, off the coast of Yemen when two boats trying to smuggle 86 people from Somalia ran into difficulties, the United Nations Refugees Agency said on Tuesday.

A first boat smuggling 44 people from war-wracked Somalia capsized early on Saturday "when the smugglers began to push the passengers overboard into the waters off the coast of Yemen," said Andrej Mahecic, spokesman for the UNHCR.

Thirty-four people made it to shore, while seven bodies were recovered and three other people are still missing.

Of another 42 Somalis who travelled on a second boat, only 30 made it to shore, while three drowned and three others are missing. The remaining six are reported to have stayed onboard with the smugglers.

In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, the interior ministry said on its Internet website that the corpses of seven Somalis, including those of two women, were washed ashore on the Yemeni coast. They were later buried after the UNHCR had been informed.

Conflict, famine and drought have pushed thousands of people to attempt the risky sea voyage.

The UNHCR said some 17 boats carrying 835 people arrived in Yemen in the past five days alone, while between January and August, 36,000 Africans arrived, up 33 percent from a year ago.

In 2008, 50,091 people arrived in Yemen on smugglers? boats, but some 590 people drowned and 359 others are missing at sea and presumed dead.

In August, 2,675 Somali refugees, including 1,000 women and hundreds of children, arrived in Yemen, according to the Yemeni interior ministry website.

Yemeni security authorities said the influx of Somalis fleeing their troubled country continues, with their number exceeding a million, which is "beyond Yemen's capacity", the ministry said.

It called on the international community to "stand by Yemen to face this humanitarian crisis".


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