Yemen: Dozens of migrants die in Gulf of Aden
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||11 June 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Yemen: Dozens of migrants die in Gulf of Aden, 11 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48522c12c.html [accessed 26 May 2013]|
SANAA, 11 June 2008 (IRIN) - The Gulf of Aden continues to be a death trap for African migrants who risk all in flimsy boats to try and reach Yemen. Recent poor weather has caused several fatal accidents, the Somali consul in Aden, Hussein Haji, said.
Dozens of African migrants have died so far in June while trying to reach the 2,500km-long Yemeni coast, according to Haji.
He told IRIN that on 8 June a vessel carrying 120 passengers - equal numbers of Somalis and Ethiopians - had been adrift in international waters between Somalia and Yemen. "Engine failure left the boat stranded for a few days until a US Navy destroyer rescued them," he said.
Haji said the passengers had had nothing to eat or drink, and that eight people had died as a result.
"The American destroyer brought them to an area near Bosasso and handed them over to the Puntland authorities," he said.
In another incident, 40 Ethiopians and Somalis drowned after attempting to swim ashore on 6 June: They were among 120 African migrants smuggled out of the port city of Bosasso, he said.
According to Haji, the smugglers had forced the passengers to jump out and swim. "Eighty people survived the incident. Some swam for three hours and others made it to the shore after four hours," he said, adding that the bodies of the drowned passengers had not been found.
Ingrid Kircher, humanitarian affairs officer at the Médicins sans Frontières (MSF) office in Yemen, said the condition of the new arrivals was poor.
"The main medical complaints are general body pains, as they have to sit without moving for two or three days. The boats are very crowded and they sit in the sun without anything to eat or drink," she told IRIN.
According to her, their aches and pains are often related to psycho-social stress resulting from having witnessed the drowning of a relative or acquaintance.
Kircher also said many of the new arrivals suffered trauma as a result of beatings received on board. "They were beaten with sticks and sometimes slashed with knives. They had quite severe injuries. Some also had skin infections because sanitary conditions are very bad and sometimes they have to sit in urine," she said.
MSF has been providing medical assistance to the migrants in the southern governorates of Abyan and Shabwa since September 2007, according to Kircher. By April 2008, the aid organisation had assisted over 6,000 people, she said.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said over 18,000 migrants had arrived in Yemen so far in 2008, and over 400 had died at sea.