Saturday, April 14, 2007

YEMEN-AFRICA: Smugglers drown African migrants

Picture: IRIN

A group of 33 migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia died on Friday after smugglers forced them off their boat near the Yemeni shore, a Somali community leader in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, said on Monday. "Smugglers forced 120 [Ethiopian and Somali] migrants into the sea before anchoring at the shore for fear of the Yemeni coastguard authorities," Sadat Mohammed, head of refugee affairs in the Somali community in Sana'a, told IRIN. "Those who resisted were stabbed and beaten by smugglers, and then thrown into the stormy sea. Twenty of them were stabbed, and the shore became reddish as a result of the bleeding bodies," he added. According to Mohammed, Yemeni authorities buried the bodies in the local area. The victims were on three boats carrying 320 passengers in total that left the Somali port of Bossaso on 4 April and arrived in Bir Ali in Yemen’s southern province of Shabwa after a two-day perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden. Two other boats carrying 100 passengers each arrived safely. The incident came 15 days after at least 35 African migrants were confirmed dead and 113 missing while crossing the Gulf of Aden as traffickers forced 450 Somalis and Ethiopians off four boats into the sea off the Yemeni coast.

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