33 Somali refugees killed in airstrike on boat off Yemen

SANAA — At least 33 Somali refugees were killed and 29 others wounded when a total of 150 refugees traveling in a boat off the Yemeni coast came under an air attack, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Sanaa said on Friday.

The ICRC “is shocked by last night’s attack on a civilian ship carrying around 150 passengers, including women and children, near the port of Hodeida,” it said in an emailed statement.

The attack left 33 dead and 29 wounded, while other passengers are either still missing or under the care of local authorities, the ICRC said.

“It was a heartbreaking scene. I saw many men, women and children either killed or horribly wounded,” said Eric Christopher Wyss from the ICRC.

“Survivors told us that many of the passengers were refugees from Somalia or Yemen, fleeing conflict,” he added.

Houthi-controlled Saba news agency reported that the Somali refugees came under an air attack late night of Thursday, blaming a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia which is having tight control of the Red Sea and the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb off the western Yemeni coasts.

There was no comment by the coalition forces yet.

A spokesperson of the International Immigration Organization office in Sanaa, Sheba al-Muallimy, told Xinhua that the organization has no hand in coordination Thursday night’s journey of the Somali refugees.

Al-Muallimy said the organization learned very late that the Somali refugees were travelling to Sudan, escaping the conflict here in Yemen.

Xinhua conducted the UNHCR Refugees Agency in Sanaa for comment, but the office in Sanaa said no official is on duty at the weekend.

Houthis have been controlling north of Yemen, including Hodeida, after they ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in late 2014.

In March 2015, a coalition of Arab armies led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s conflict to back Hadi troops against Houthi fighters, who have seized control of most of the northern Yemen, including Sanaa, to restore power to Hadi.

The coalition forces have been imposing tight control over the Red Sea and strategic strait of Bab al-Mandab which links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.

The war has killed more than 10,000 Yemeni people, half of them civilians, and displaced over two millions, according to humanitarian agencies. PNA/Xinhua-northboundasia.com