Wednesday, October 24, 2007

African migrants thrown overboard

Sixty six African migrants are dead or missing after being forced overboard by people traffickers off the coast of Yemen, the UN refugee agency says.

The incident involved two smugglers' boats that left the Somali coastal town of Bossaso on Saturday with 244 people aboard, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians.

Survivors say the victims drowned when they were forced into deep water after reaching the Yemen coast on Sunday.

More than 20,000 people have made the crossing from East Africa this year.

But more than 400 have died while crossing the Gulf of Aden to Yemen and with as many again missing and feared dead, the UNHCR says.

'Roughed up'

UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said 28 migrants had been confirmed dead in the latest incident

A further 38 people are still missing.

The UNCHR says a total of 178 people managed to make it to shore.

The survivors say they were roughed up on the boats by the people-traffickers; some also reported being robbed by Yemeni military personnel.

Aid workers arriving on the scene provided food and water before transferring the group to UNHCR's Mayfaa reception centre.


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