World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Somali People Smuggler Boats Capsize Off Yemen

Somali People Smuggler Boats Capsize Off Yemen, Leaving 17 Dead, 140 Missing – UN

Seventeen people died and some 140 are missing after two smugglers’ boats carrying them across the Gulf of Aden from strife-torn Somalia capsized in the dark off the coast of Yemen, the latest victims of long series of deadly incidents claimed by the perilous crossing, the United Nations refugee reported today.

The tragedy occurred when the boats, carrying mainly Somalis and Ethiopians, tried to escape back to sea after a fire fight erupted as Yemeni coastguards intercepted two other boats that had already offloaded their human cargo.

The news came as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that it was mobilizing staff and resources in preparation for a possible exodus of tens of thousands of people fleeing the recent upsurge of fighting in Somalia.

The four boats were smuggling 515 people late Wednesday when they were spotted approaching the coastline by Yemeni authorities. Two of them had reportedly offloaded their cargo when were then fired on by Yemeni security forces. According to Yemeni officials, the smugglers returned fire but were then captured.

The third and fourth boats, which had been waiting further offshore in the dark, tried to escape, but one capsized near Al-Baida, trapping several people beneath the overturned hull. The other, pursued by two coastguard boats and a helicopter, was forced back towards shore but capsized in heavy seas about 300 metres from the beach.

Yemeni authorities said today they captured all 17 smugglers and a search operation was still underway for survivors. In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres voiced shock over the loss of life and called for action against those responsible.

“Despite efforts to halt this horrible trade, brutal smugglers continue prey on the desperation of poor people fleeing persecution and violence and those looking for better economic opportunities elsewhere,” he said. “We urgently need a concerted international effort aimed at addressing root causes, educating would-be migrants and cracking down on the smugglers and traffickers based in Somalia.”

In the past few months UNHCR has reported cases of migrants being savagely beaten to death and thrown overboard by club-wielding smugglers just for requesting water. At least 330 people have now died during the crossing, with more than 300 missing, this year, during which nearly 26,000 migrants have been recorded arriving on the coast of Yemen from Somalia.

More than 350 survivors from Wednesday’s incident were taken to UNHCR’s Mayfa'a reception centre to recover from their ordeal and were given food and medical assistance.

Many Somalis said they fled because of the current conflict between the Ethiopian-backed Somali Transition Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts.

Earlier this month, UNHCR expressed concern after Yemeni authorities fired on boats, killing two people.

There are currently more than 88,000 registered refugees in Yemen, of whom 84,000 are Somalis. Somalis reaching Yemen get automatic refugee status because many are fleeing conflict, though not all apply for it. Ethiopians are not automatically considered refugees, but can have their cases heard individually. Yemen has started to detain and deport an increasing number of non-Somalis.

Earlier this month, 126 Ethiopians were detained. Some have reportedly been deported back to Ethiopia, despite repeated UNHCR appeals for access to screen them.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news