About 100 people believed to be mainly Somalis went missing in the Gulf of Aden after being forced overboard by smugglers off the coast of Yemen, the UN refugee agency has said.
A smuggling boat carrying about 150 passengers departed the Somali port of Marera, near Bossaso, earlier on Monday and spent three days crossing the Gulf of Aden, according to survivors of the dangerous trip, the agency said last night.
Upon arriving 5 kms off the Yemen coast, all but 12 of the passengers were forced overboard. The 12 were placed in a smaller boat, while the others had to try to swim to shore.
Survivors said they counted only a total of 47 people reaching shore, said Ron Redmond, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Redmond said UNHCR and its partners were still searching for the 100 missing people in the Gulf of Aden. There has been a recent upsurge in people smuggling across the Gulf of Aden from war-torn Somalia.
So far this year, about 32,000 people have arrived in Yemen after making the perilous voyage aboard smugglers' boats. At least 230 people have died and an estimated 365 remain missing, including from the latest incident.