At least 10 Somalis drowned in the Gulf of Aden as they were trying to make their way to Yemen in two separate boats, and six others are still missing, the UN said.
The first boat, which set off from the Somali village of Marera carrying 44 people, capsized off the Yemeni coast when smugglers began forcing people overboard, said the UN refugee agency. The bodies of seven Somalis who drowned were recovered, and three people are still missing, it said.
The second boat left Somalia with 42 people, but three drowned when the smugglers again forced passengers to jump in the water, worried they had been spotted from shore. Three other Somalis are still missing, said the UN in a statement.
"The smugglers shouted to get out of the boat," the refugee agency quoted one woman as saying, without providing her name.
"They started to throw our men off board as a reason for us to jump in the water too."
The representative for the agency in Yemen, Claire Bourgeois, said "we expect an upsurge in landings and incidents as soon as monsoon period comes to an end in few weeks."
Hundreds of Africans die every year trying to reach Yemen, with many drowning or being attacked by pirates and smugglers in the dangerous waters separating Somalia and the Arabian peninsula.