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Another tragedy in Gulf of Aden

Briefing notes

Another tragedy in Gulf of Aden

10 October 2008 Also available in:

UNHCR and its partners are searching for about 100 people reported missing in the Gulf of Aden after being forced overboard by smugglers off the coast of Yemen.

Some of the 47 known survivors told UNHCR's team in Yemen that a smuggling boat carrying about 150 passengers departed the Somalil port of Marera, near Bossaso, on Monday and spent three days crossing the Gulf of Aden.

Upon arriving 5 km off the Yemen coast, all but 12 of the passengers were forced overboard. The 12 were placed in a smaller boat, while the others had to try to swim to shore. Survivors said they counted a total of 47 people reaching shore, and later saw Yemeni authorities burying five bodies.

By yesterday afternoon, the survivors were being transferred to UNHCR's Mayfa reception centre.

There has been a recent upsurge in people smuggling across the Gulf of Aden from war-torn Somalia. So far this year, about 32,000 people have arrived in Yemen after making the perilous voyage aboard smugglers' boats. At least 230 people have died and an estimated 365 remain missing, including from the latest incident.