Posted on March 28, 2007

Somali People Smugglers Force Migrants To Jump Overboard

EuroNews (Lyon Ecully Cedex, France), March 28, 2007

A horrifying example has come to light of the growing problem of people smuggling between Yemen and Somalia. The UN refugee agency says at least thirty-one people have been killed and seventy are reported missing after smugglers forced hundreds of Somali and Ethiopian migrants into open sea off Yemen.

Survivors from four boat loads of migrants say those who refused to jump overboard were stabbed, beaten and raped. “These are very brutal people,” said one man who managed to get to shore. Officials say so far this year at least 260 people are dead or reported missing after attempting to flee Somalia for Yemen.

Doctors say many forced out of their boats were attacked by sharks. “There are wounds due to biting, wounds due to beatings. There are also fractures of bones due to beating.” Officials say smugglers often drop migrants in deep waters because Yemen has increased sea patrols closer to shore.

One woman survivor said: “When we came near the coast we were forced to jump into the sea. We were extremely shocked when we discovered dead bodies on the beach.” The UN says the problem is likely to get worse as more and more Somalis try to escape poverty and turmoil in their country.