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UNHCR condemns refugee deaths off Yemen, calls for inquiry

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UNHCR condemns refugee deaths off Yemen, calls for inquiry

20 March 2017
Somalia. A Million Shillings- Escape from Somalia
Somali refugees look back anxiously as they prepare to board a smuggler's boat to cross to Yemen from Somalia, November 2007.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, condemns last Thursday’s incident in which 42 people, including refugees, were killed when a boat carrying around 145 passengers - among them women and children - came under fire off Yemen’s west coast, near Al Hudaydah. 

“Over forty lives have been lost in this unwarranted attack on helpless civilians fleeing violence and conflict,” said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “Many questions remain unanswered on the circumstances of this horrific event. We call on all parties to the conflict to make proper inquiries to ensure accountability and to prevent this from happening again.”

While the circumstances surrounding Thursday’s attack are still unclear, according to international law, civilians must not be attacked and warring parties must do everything possible to protect civilians. 

“Civilians are disproportionately bearing the consequences of the conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen,” said Grandi. “More than ever, peace is urgently needed in Yemen. Only a peaceful political solution can put an end to the current suffering and misery.”

UNHCR staff on the ground have been giving support to families of the victims and survivors of the attack. 

Yemen is immersed in a humanitarian crisis and is at risk of famine. Of the three million Yemenis displaced by the conflict, one million have returned to their homes under precarious conditions and two million remain displaced. The country is also hosting almost 280,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from Somalia. Last year, more than 117,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen. 


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