Tuesday, February 28, 2006

ONE OF THE SOMALIS ESCAPE ROUTES!

Somalis pushed into sea and drown. A boat sailing from Somalia forced all of its 137 passengers into deep waters off the Yemeni coast, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says. More than 30 of the migrants have drowned. Survivors that reached shore on Monday night says dozens more, including children, are missing. Thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians attempt to cross the Gulf of Aden each year, many hoping to reach Europe. Fearing Yemeni coast guards, smugglers often force their passengers overboard.

Trafficking boom town

The smuggling networks target migrants and asylum seekers and an estimated 100 people a day arrive in Yemen between September to March - when sailing conditions are at their best. However, the UNHCR says the risks of the voyage are extremely high, with passengers often paying the ultimate price. "Smugglers torture, rape and shoot their passengers if they complain. It's very dangerous," UNHCR's Peter Kessler told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.
Those aboard in this incident were Somalis and Ethiopians, including men, women and children. Bodies have been washed up along the southern coast of Yemen east of Bir Ali. "It is a sign of the fragility of the situation in Somalia and more and more Ethiopians are also opting to escape on this route," Mr Kessler says. "It's clear that the political insecurity, especially after the election in Ethiopia, are driving more people from that country to seek asylum."

UN staff in Aden say they are taking care of the survivors, giving them medical help and food.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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