Around 100 people are believed to have died off the coast of Yemen after being forced overboard by smugglers in the Gulf of Aden, the United Nations refugee agency reported today.
Some 47 survivors of this latest tragedy told the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that a smuggling boat carrying about 150 passengers departed the Somali port of Marera, near Bossaso, on Monday and spent three days crossing the Gulf of Aden.
Then when the boat arrived about five kilometres off the coast of Yemen, all but 12 of the passengers were forced overboard.
“The 12 were placed in a smaller boat, while the others had to try to swim to shore,” UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva. “Survivors said they counted a total of 47 people reaching shore, and later saw Yemeni authorities burying five bodies.”
The agency and its partners are searching for about 100 people still missing following the tragic incident, the latest in a recent upsurge of people smuggling across the Gulf of Aden from war-torn Somalia.
Just over two weeks ago, at least 52 Somalis died when the boat smuggling them across the Gulf of Aden broke down and they were left adrift with no food or water for 18 days.
According to UNHCR about 32,000 people have arrived in Yemen this year after making the dangerous voyage aboard smugglers’ boats.
At least 230 people have died and an estimated 365 remain missing, including from the latest incident, the agency reported.