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May 31, 11

NEWS / Latest smuggling boat tragedy in Gulf of Aden claims at least 10 lives

31 May 2011 –
The United Nations refugee agency today voiced shock and sadness after at least 10 people died while making the perilous journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen aboard a smuggling boat.

The boat set sail early on Sunday from Bossaso, Puntland, in northern Somalia, according to reports by some of the original 115 passengers who made it to Yemen’s shore, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated in a news release.

Ten Ethiopians on board suffocated en route to Yemen as the smugglers crammed 25 people in the engine room with no ventilation. Survivors claim that their bodies were thrown into the sea some seven hours after departure.

Fearing detection by the Yemeni navy, the smugglers forced the remaining passengers to disembark too far from the coast. Four more people perished after succumbing to the rough sea. As of this morning, one male body and one female body had been recovered.

“We condemn the unscrupulous and inhuman treatment of refugees and others who are desperately seeking to flee the violence, human rights abuses and seriously debilitating life options in the Horn of Africa,” said Erika Feller, the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.

The Gulf of Aden remains one of the deadliest routes for those fleeing the Horn of Africa. According to UNHCR, 108 people are known to have drowned or fallen victim to risky crossings there since the start of 2011, compared to only 15 during all of 2010.




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