17 March 2017

Somalia: Dozens of Refugees Killed Off Yemen Coast

Photo: Jeff Angote
At least 33 migrants died and dozens of others were wounded (file photo).

More than 30 Somalis have died after gunfire from a helicopter struck their boat off Hodeida's coast in Yemen. It is not clear who was behind the attack.

At least 33 migrants died and dozens of others were wounded after gunfire from a helicopter hit their boat on Friday, an official told AFP news agency.

Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said, "Our confirmation is that there are dozens of deaths and many dozens of survivors brought to hospitals." The organization said the refugees, who were from Somalia, were probably heading towards Sudan.

The United Nations' refugee agency UNHCR condemned the tragedy: "UNHCR is appalled by this tragic incident, the latest in which civilians continue to disproportionately bear the brunt of conflict in Yemen."

The Saba news agency, controlled by rebels, said the airstrikes took place off the coast of Hodeida and close to Bab al-Mandab strait. It also said that the dead included women and children.

There was no comment from the coalition.

War-torn Yemen is a migrant destination

Hodeida has witnessed severe clashes in the past 24 hours. 32 people, including 10 civilians, have been killed.

Since the last two years, Riyadhhas been waging an offensive in Yemen's south to flush out Houthi rebels, who are fighting to oust the country's president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

According to the UN - which has described the catastrophe in Yemen as the"largest humanitarian crisis" - more than 7,400 people have died in the conflict since March 2015. Around two-thirds of the population is in dire need of food and medical assistance.

Despite the crisis, Yemen continues to be an important transit point for African migrants. Several camps in Yemen's south host migrants from the Horn of Africa.

mg/wd (AFP, AP)

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