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One dead, two injured in shooting incident on the Arabian Sea

Briefing notes

One dead, two injured in shooting incident on the Arabian Sea

22 June 2010

As celebrations for World Refugee Day were going on in Yemen on Sunday, a newly arrived 22-year-old Somali male was killed and two non-Somali women were seriously wounded in a gun battle between the military and smugglers.

This occurred at around 2pm local time on Sunday afternoon in Al Sabiel, some 200 km west of Aden, as smugglers were boarding African mixed migrants onto two Saudi Arabia-bound trucks.

Al Sabiel lies about 50 km north-east of Bab al Mandab, near Dhubab, and is the main entry point in Yemen for mixed migrants crossing the Red Sea. According to survivors, military vehicles surrounded a smuggling convoy in the process of boarding passengers from the Horn of Africa. Shooting broke out when the smugglers tried to escape.

Currently, some 51 non-Somalis are in detention pending further investigation. Another Somali is reported missing and presumed to have fled. The army has handed over five Somali males to UNHCR's partner, the Yemeni Red Crescent. They are being assisted at the Bab al Mandab transit centre and, pending further investigation will be transported to the Kharaz refugee camp, some 150 km west of Aden.

The survivors tell us they were among passengers from a smuggling boat carrying some 60 Africans from the Horn of Africa. The boat departed from Obock in Djibouti on Sunday at around 7 am and reached Yemen's Arabian Sea coast in Al Sadaf after a seven-hour journey.

UNHCR is working with the Government of Yemen to have access to the non-Somalis in detention to identify and assist persons of concern. UNHCR reminds everyone of the absolute necessity for governments to protect civilians.

So far this year, due to war, extreme poverty, famine and drought, some 19,256 Africans from the Horn of Africa have fled their home and reached the shores of Yemen.