40 African migrants found dead on Yemeni shores [Archives:2007/1100/Local News]

November 5 2007

SANA'A, 4 Nov. ) Yemeni security authorities in the southern province of Abyan recovered the bodies of 40 Somalis, who had been forced overboard by traffickers onto Yemeni shores. The Somalis were part of 120 African migrants who made a perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden in a boat operated by ruthless smugglers operating from the Somali port of Bossaso.

The Ministry of Defense's news website, www.26sep.net, said on Saturday that security authorities found 40 dead bodies, of which 7 are women, in Beir Meftah area of Abyan province.

Abyan security head Ahmed Ali Al-Maqdashi, mentioned that a further 78 African migrants, including 12 women, were rescued by military and security forces. Locals in the area also helped in rescuing the African migrants, he commented.

The official noted that the survivors were sent to hospitals to undergo treatment before being handed over to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The search for the dead bodies took three days, with two people still unaccounted for, he added.

Survivors said a vessel operated by smugglers brought 120 African migrants and then forced them into the water about one and a half mile off the Yemeni shore. Locals buried the dead bodies after obtaining permission from the prosecution.

On 23 October, UNHCR said up to 66 people drowned in the Gulf of Aden after being forced overboard. The tragedy involved two smugglers' boats that left the Somali coastal town of Bossaso with 244 people aboard, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians, the UN organization noted, adding that a total of 28 bodies were buried on the beach, while 38 (29 Ethiopians and nine Somalis) remain missing.

The high season for smuggling across the Gulf usually runs from early September to May when the sea is less stormy than during summer.

This year, the UNHCR estimated that more than 20,000 African migrants, mostly Somalis, have arrived to Yemen by boat. At least 439 people have died this year and another 489 are missing and believed dead.

Many recently-arrived African immigrants say the conditions in their homeland are so bad that they have nothing left to lose and are willing to take the risk.