Thirty-five drown in latest smuggling tragedy in the Gulf of Aden

Thursday, 23 April, 2009

Thirty-five drown in latest smuggling tragedy in the Gulf of Aden

ADEN, Yemen - Thirty-five people drowned after one of two smugglers' boats carrying more than 220 passengers across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia capsized Wednesday off the coast of Yemen's Abyan region, some 250 km east of Aden.

The capsized boat, which was carrying about 117 people, departed Monday from the vicinity of Bossasso in Somalia.

By midday Thursday, 35 bodies had been recovered by UNHCR's partner agency, the Society of Human Solidarity (SHS). The remaining passengers are believed to have made it to shore, as did some 105 people on the second vessel.

A total of 165 people were later transferred to UNHCR's Ahwar Reception Centre. The survivors included an 8-year-old Somali boy whose mother drowned, SHS reported. Survivors were provided with water and food before being transferred to Ahwar for further assistance and registration.

So far this year, 387 boats and 19,622 people have arrived in Yemen after making the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa. A total of 131 people have died and at least 66 others are presumed missing at sea.

Those who make the crossing are fleeing desperate situations of civil war, political instability, poverty and famine in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.