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At least 14 die during boat smuggling incident in the Gulf of Aden

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At least 14 die during boat smuggling incident in the Gulf of Aden

2011-05-31 23:45:14 GMT+7 (ICT)

GENEVA (BNO NEWS) -- At least 14 people have been killed while a smuggler's boat carrying more than 100 people tried to travel the Gulf of Aden for a two-day journey from Somalia to Yemen, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

The agency said a smuggler's boat carrying approximately 115 passengers set sail from Bosasso, Puntland in northern Somalia on early Sunday morning. They were attempting to illegally reach Yemen.

According to the survivors, ten Ethiopians suffocated en-route to Yemen when the smugglers crammed and confined 25 people to the engine room which had no ventilation. It happened about seven hours after the boat's departure, and the victims were later thrown into the sea.

Four more people died in the sea when the smugglers, fearing detection by the Yemeni Navy, forced all the remaining passengers to disembark from the boat. It happened too far from the coast, causing some of the exhausted passengers to drown in the rough sea.

"We condemn the unscrupulous and inhumane treatment of refugees and others who are desperately seeking to flee the violence, human rights abuses and seriously debilitating life options in the Horn of Africa," said Erika Feller, the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. "We have witnessed similar, isolated, individual incidents before – but never on such scale. This speaks volumes about the smugglers' utter disregard for human life."

As of Tuesday morning, the Yemeni Society for Humanitarian Solidarity had recovered one male and one female body. They were buried hours later at the local cemetery near Al Hamra. The 101 survivors, mostly Ethiopians, were transferred to Ahwar Reception Centre for care and recovery.

According to UNHCR, at least 108 people are known to have drowned or fallen victim to risky crossings on the Gulf of Aden since the beginning of the year. In 2010 this number was only 15.

More than 9,000 Somalis and 27,000 Ethiopians have arrived in Yemen by boat so far this year.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-05-31

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