100 people feared drowned in Gulf of Aden

October 11th, 2008 - 12:09 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 10 (DPA) About 100 people were feared drowned off the coast of Yemen after they were forced to swim ashore by smugglers, the UN refugee agency said Friday citing reports by survivors.The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said 47 Somalis survived the ordeal after the smugglers forced all 150 people aboard off the boat that left the Somali port of Marera, near Bossaro Monday.

The boat spent three days crossing the Gulf of Aden and was five km off
the Yemeni coast when the smugglers forced their human cargo to swim.

The UNHCR said 12 people that were put on a smaller boat arrived safely.

“The 12 were placed in a smaller boat, while the others had to try to swim to shore,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva.

“Survivors said they counted a total of 47 people reaching shore, and later saw Yemeni authorities burying five bodies,” he said.

The UNHCR said a search was ordered for the rest of the passengers. The smuggling accident was the latest in a series of human smuggling cases. At least 52 Somalis died last month onboard their smuggling boat after it broke down and drifted for 18 days without food or water.

The UNHCR said about 32,000 people were safely smuggled into Yemen so far this year, while 230 people have died and 365 others were reported missing.

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