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October 09, 2012

16 Dead or Missing in Capsize Off Mayotte

by VOA News

The U.N. refugee agency says six people have been confirmed dead and 10 others are missing after a boat capsized Monday off the French territory of Mayotte.

Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said Tuesday that this is the second such incident in a month off Mayotte, a target for asylum-seekers sailing from the Comoros islands.

Edwards says including Monday's incident, 69 people are dead or missing from such incidents off the Indian Ocean territory this year. 

Edwards said such incidents are a reminder of the risks faced by people desperate to escape poverty, conflict, and persecution.  

Edwards said asylum-seekers account for a small percentage of the traffic to Mayotte but those numbers have been increasing in the last two years.

The U.N. agency says last year there were some 1,200 applications for asylum in Mayotte.  Most were from Comoros, but a small percentage were also from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Rwanda, and Burundi.