Monday, November 03, 2008

Sixty corpses wash onto Yemen beach

Some people trying to flee the war and poverty in Somalia and Ethiopia did not make it out with their lives. The aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres say 60 corpses have washed onto a Yemen beach in recent days.

The people who try to flee, sell all they have to smugglers to give them passage out of the country. If the smugglers fear that they are about to get caught, they spill the people overboard.

As this Reuters story from News Australia reports, the smuggling route across the gulf of Arden is a very dangerous one.

November 3rd, News Australia

In one of two incidents that caused the deaths, smugglers tipped the refugees into the sea at night after noticing lights on land and fearing they would be spotted by the coastguard, MSF quoted survivors as saying.

"They forced us into the sea, even if the water was too deep. Several people did not know how to swim and they drowned," one survivor said. An eight-months pregnant woman was injured by the boat's propeller after being forced overboard, survivors said.

In a second incident, MSF workers discovered a group who had made it to shore after their boat capsized. They said they had buried 23 fellow passengers.

"The boat was stuck almost upside down in the sand, not far from the beach. The fishermen were trying to find survivors underneath but they could not," said MSF worker Said.

"So I had to dive under. I managed to get in the hull and with God's help, we got two women and a man out safe."

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, about 32,000 people got safely to Yemen from Somalia between the start of the year and October. At least 230 people had died, and 365 were missing.

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