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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 10:55 GMT
African migrants drown off Yemen
MSF image of bodybags on Yemeni beach
The capsized boat was carrying Somalis and Ethiopians
About 180 African migrants are believed to have died in the Red Sea in the last few days while trying to reach Yemen, a Somali diplomat in Yemen has said.

Hussein Haji Ahmed said two boats had capsized off the Yemeni coast.

Earlier, the aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres said it had found the bodies of 56 Africans who had drowned as their boat approached Yemen's coast.

Nearly 28,000 Somalis have crossed to Yemen this year, either to escape fighting in Somalia or to seek work.

Almost 600 people are believed to have died and another 650 have gone missing, according to international aid agencies.

Capsized

In a statement, MSF said its staff in Yemen had found the bodies of 56 Africans who had died trying to cross the Gulf of Aden along a 5km (3 mile) stretch of coast near the southern town of al-Irqah on Saturday.

Map

The 49 survivors found nearby said they had left the Somali port city of Bossaso three days earlier.

The migrants told MSF they had set out in an 8m (26ft) fibreglass boat with 148 Somalis and Ethiopians on board, including 40 women and five children.

At least four people died during the trip because there was no food or water on board, the survivors said.

As the boat approached the Yemeni coast, the smugglers forced the passengers to jump into the water or suffer a beating, they added.

The vessel capsized when the passengers rushed to one side during the ensuing panic.

SEE ALSO
Somalia's trafficking boom town
28 Apr 04 |  Africa
Country profile: Somalia
29 Jan 04 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Yemen
14 Jul 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Ethiopia
23 Oct 07 |  Country profiles

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