Sanaa: At least
62 Somali migrants, including nine women, are feared to have perished after
a smugglers’ boat ferrying them capsized off Yemen’s coast, Yemeni officials
and local media said yesterday.
About 32 other Somali migrants from the same boat were rescued, a security
official in the coastal Abyan province said, speaking on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorised to talk to the media.
The official also said 96 Somalis are believed to have been aboard the smugglers’
boat. It was not immediately clear when the boat capsized.
The local Al Ayman newspaper reported, quoting unnamed witnesses from the
area, that 16 bodies from the incident have washed ashore since Friday night
and that more could be seen floating in the sea from the coastal highway.
Another local official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the
survivors were taken to the Kharaz refugee camp in Aden.
The official said survivors told Yemeni authorities that the human traffickers
forced them into the sea when they sighted the Yemeni coast guard.
The incident is the latest case of abuse of people trying to reach
Yemen from the Horn of Africa, where violence has escalated since Ethiopia
intervened in the armed struggle between Somalia’s UN-supported interim government
and Islamic groups.
A week ago, Yemen said that about 5,000 illegal migrants from Ethiopia and
Somalia arrived here since January and that 395 died while trying to cross
by boat in the same period.
Many migrants drown or are slain by pirates and smugglers in the treacherous
waters between Yemen and Somalia, authorities said.
Others face smugglers’ brutal attacks during the journey and are thrown overboard
into shark-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden as pirates scramble to evade
Yemeni coast guard forces.
Out of a total of 88,000 registered refugees in Yemen, around 84,000 are Somalis.