Smuggling Attempt Leaves at Least 52 Somalis Dead
According to a CNN article, UN officials reported Sunday that at least 52 Somalis died when the boat that was smuggling them across Gulf of Aden to Yemen broke down and left them stranded without food or water for 18 days.
A news release from the San'a, Yemen, office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said seventy-one people survived the ordeal and were rescued by coast guardsmen in Shihr after the boat drifted into Yemeni coastal waters on September 21.
Survivors said they left war-torn Somalia to escape drought, unemployment and other insecurities. Smugglers received between $70 and $100 from each passenger, the UNHCR said.
The survivors said there were 124 of them when they left September 3 from Manera on the Somali coast. The engine stopped several hours later, they said.
"The knife-wielding crew of the smuggling boat told passengers they would travel to the Somali city of Bossaso in a smaller boat to recharge a battery and then return as soon as possible," the UNHCR said. "They never returned."
Thirty-eight men and 10 women died while the boat was drifting, survivors said. The bodies were thrown overboard. Four survivors died in the hospital after being rescued.
After high waves and the current carried the boat toward Yemen's Shihr coast, 3 people decided to swim to shore and find help. One is still missing.
The Yemen coast guard towed the boat to shore, and UNHCR staff members and other humanitarian agencies met survivors with food and water.
The UNHCR said there has been a recent increase in people smuggling across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It attributes the increase in smuggling to displacements in Somalia, the opening of new smuggling routes across the gulf, and the smugglers' belief that the gulf has less surveillance during the holy month of Ramadan.
Stormy gulf weather usually causes the frequency of smuggling to slow between May and September.
At least 31,192 people have been smuggled into Yemen already this year. More than 228 Somalis and Ethiopians have died, and 262 are missing.