Africa's boat people - 16 die in another capsizing

picture: UNHCR

picture: UNHCR

At least 16 trafficked people drowned in the Gulf of Aden over the weekend in two separate incidents off the Somali coast, the Missionary News Service report.

An official UNHCR bulletin notes that the first incident took place early on Saturday when a boat with 44 people from Somalia aboard capsized. Seven people died and their bodies were recovered at sea. Three others are missing.

Meanwhile, 34 survivors, who reached the Yemeni shore at Rujehma, recounted how the boat capsized after the traffickers started to throw some of the passengers in the water, generating panic among the others.

The second incident took place  later off the Yemeni shore,  when the traffickers forced 42 passengers from another boat to jump in the sea (a common practice to avoid more rigorous controls by the Yemeni navy). The group tried to swim ashore. Three drowned along the way and others are given as missing. In the past five days, said UNHCR, a total of 17 boats with 835 people aboard have reached Yemen. Between January and August 2009 there has been a 33% increase of migrant landings compared to the same period last year and at least 36,000 Africans (typically Somalis, Eritreans and Ethiopians) have reached Yemen using one of the most dangerous routes in the world. In 2008, about 50,000 people made it ashore and 590 drowned, while 400 are still being considered to be missing at sea. 

Last week the Vatican has appealed to the authorities in Italy to rescue migrants trying to reach Europe from North Africa by sea, and give them medical help and support.  The appeals were made after more than 70 Eritrean migrants died from hunger and thirst, during a gruelling three week sea voyage from Libya. Italian border police rescued just five survivors from the boat,  near the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

Source: MISNA

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