- Sixteen Somalis have died over the weekend trying to start fresh lives in Yemen, joining hundreds of others who have lost their lives this year making the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden, the United Nations refugee agency reported yesterday.
The Somalis who perished this weekend died in two separate incidents involving smuggling boats, the report said.
In the first, survivors said that the vessel, which left Somalia’s Bossaso port carrying over 40 people, capsized when smugglers pushed people overboard, pushing passengers to one side of the boat. Seven bodies were recovered by partners of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while three people are still missing.
In the other incident, smugglers, fearing detection by Yemeni authorities, forced more than 40 passengers to swim ashore, with three people drowning and three others missing and presumed dead.
Last year, over 50,000 new arrivals reached Yemen’s shores, marking a 70 percent increase from 2007, and 36,000 people have already arrived since this January.
Over 1,000 people drowned en route to Yemen in 2008, and already this year some 300 have died or are missing, according to UNHCR.
To respond to the potential influx of as many as 20,000 new arrivals, UNCHR and other agencies have been planning the provision of protection and assistance, as well as improving the capacity and conditions of reception centres.
On Somalia, the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that civilians continue to be killed in the capital, Mogadishu, with at least 50 people losing their lives in the past week alone.
A UN report released late last month found that half of the Horn of Africa nation’s population needs humanitarian assistance, noting that that the conflict engulfing Somalia is pushing increasing numbers of people into hunger.
The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO/FSNAU) says that the crisis in Somalia is both widespread and severe, with some 3.76 people in need of humanitarian aid, up from 3.17 million in January.
Meanwhile, reports have also surfaced that the European Commission working out plans to allow more refugees from conflict zones, especially from Africa, into European countries.
The scheme, according to reports, is aimed at discouraging immigrants from attempting to reach Europe illegally.
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