The U.N. refugee agency says 65 people are dead or missing and presumed
dead in three separate incidents involving smuggling boats in the Gulf
of Aden during the past 48 hours.
These tragic events are
just the latest in a long string of incidents affecting people from the
Horn of Africa. People in this region, scarred by civil war, political
instability, famine and poverty, willingly risk their lives in search
of a better future.
In the first incident, which took place
early Sunday, a vessel carrying 142 people reportedly capsized as the
smuggling crew jumped over board after failing to fix an engine.
refugee chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming says 98 people managed to
swim ashore while 43 others are missing and presumed dead.
to survivors, one person was reported to have suffocated in the engine
room. Passengers said that the boat departed on Thursday morning from
the Somali town of Elayo, west of Bossasso," Fleming said. "One survivor told UNHCR
that passengers were repeatedly beaten and threatened by the smugglers
during the journey. In the second incident, involving a smuggling boat
reportedly carrying 112 Africans, 13 people lost their lives at the
hands of smugglers."
passengers on this vessel also were brutally treated by the smugglers.
She says three people were beaten to death by the smugglers and another
10 died as a result of asphyxiation. She says 38 people in a third
boat had a lucky escape.
She says an EU warship sighted a
small boat sinking in deep waters and came to its rescue. But eight
other people were not so lucky. She says rescue helicopters launched
from the EU vessel spotted two bodies in nearby waters. Another six
people are missing and presumed drowned.
UNHCR spokeswoman Fleming says it appears this lethal trade is expanding.
staff in Yemen report an increasing number of large smuggling vessels
packed with larger numbers of people making the journey across the Gulf
of Aden and putting more lives at risk," Fleming said.
UNHCR reports 860 boats and more than 43,500 people have made the
perilous journey to Yemen from the Horn of Africa this year. It says
more than 270 people have drowned or are missing at sea and presumed