Yemen: Somali refugee boat 'strafed by helicopter', scores die

Yemen: Somali refugee boat 'strafed by helicopter', scores die
The boat carrying Somali refugees was travelling to Sudan near the Bab al-Mandeb strait when the attack took place.
2 min read
17 March, 2017
Dozens of Somali refugees were killed off the Yemen coast late on Thursday after a boat they were traveling in was attacked, apparently by a helicopter.

A port official in Yemen said 33 refugees were shot dead on the Red Sea, without providing further details. The toll was later updated to 42.

The boat was reportedly attacked by a helicopter, a local coast guard in the Houthi-controlled western port city of Hodeidah told Reuters.

The refugees were all carrying UNCHR documentshe added, with some 80 other refugees rescued following the attack.

The boat was traveling near the Bab al-Mandeb strait on its way to Sudan when the incident took place.

It is unclear who carried out the attack.

Civilians fleeing Somalia's 1991 civil war have long found refuge in Yemen. Most who arrive in the country end up at the Kharaz refugee camp, where an estimated 17,000 Somalis live.

The refugee community, Yemen's largest, has often faced poverty and uncertainty, but since the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, and the conflict that erupted in Yemen shortly after, their situation has significantly deteriorated.

UNHCR says that food and fuel supplies have run dangerously low in the camp since the beginning of Yemen's devastating war.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been leading an Arab coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen, after the Iran-backed group allied to deposed long-time leader Ali Abdullah Saleh overthrew the country's internationally recognised government in Sanaa.

The war has killed over 10,000 people and left over 80 percent of the country reliant on humanitarian aid.