Somali refugees fleeing Yemen war killed in Red Sea air strike
- Author: Leroy Wright Mar 18, 2017,
Mar 18, 2017, 16:17
At least 40 Somali refugees were killed off the coast of Yemen late on Thursday when a helicopter attacked the boat they were travelling in, the United Nations refugee agency said. A number of the wounded taken to hospital were missing arms and legs.
Middle East Eye reported: "Photos from the scene showed bodies of men, women, and children laid out on the ground at a small harbor, covered in pieces of colored fabric".
It was unclear whether those on board were trying to leave Yemen or seek refuge there, but the IOM said it believed the boat was headed for Sudan.
Among the dead on the boat were Somali refugees carrying identity documents issued by the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency said.
It is not clear yet who is behind the attack.
'Nevertheless it did not have any effect and a helicopter joined in the attack, ' she said.
"As conditions in Yemen further deteriorate as a result of ongoing conflict, refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly resorting to move onwards from Yemen further north, taking well-established migratory routes". The same month, the Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries started carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request.
An IOM spokesperson said that "our confirmation is that there are dozens of deaths and many dozens of survivors brought to hospitals". The Saudi military is engaged in a campaign to drive Houthi rebels out of Yemen's Red Sea coastal region, and it has used its Apaches in the area before: one was shot down near Najran, Saudi Arabia late a year ago.
He went on to call the attack "totally unacceptable", adding that those responsible should have checked who was aboard the boat "before firing on it." .
"The UN reiterates that civilians and civilian property are protected under worldwide humanitarian law", the spokesman said.
Most of the Marib province is under control of the forces loyal to the government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.