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At Least 52 Dead In Latest Gulf Of Aden Smuggling

At least 52 dead in latest Gulf of Aden smuggling incident, says UN agency

29 September 2008 – At least 52 Somalis died when the boat smuggling them across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen broke down and they were left adrift with no food or water for 18 days, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported.

According to the agency’s staff in Yemen, 71 people survived the incident after the boat drifted into Yemeni coastal waters on 21 September and was rescued by local coast guards in Shihra.

Survivors told UNHCR the boat left Marera on the Somali coast on 3 September with at least 124 passengers onboard. When the engine stopped several hours into the journey, crew members told passengers they would travel to the Somali city of Bossaso in a smaller boat to re-charge a battery and then return as soon as possible.

The crew never returned, leaving the passengers adrift for 18 days without food or water. Survivors said the bodies of 48 Somalis – 38 men and 10 women – who died while the boat drifted in the Gulf of Aden – were thrown overboard.

UNHCR and its local partners provided food and water to those who were still on the boat when it was towed to shore. Ten of the survivors were hospitalized but four later died.

The remaining survivors, who range in age from 2 to 40 years old, were taken to UNHCR’s Mayfa’a Reception Centre. They told the agency they left Somalia because of continuing insecurity in the war-torn nation, drought and unemployment. Each passenger paid the smugglers between $70 and $100 for the voyage.

According to UNHCR, at least 31,192 people have arrived in Yemen so far this year after making the perilous voyage aboard smugglers’ boats. More than 228 people have died and at least 262 remain missing.


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