Yemen: more than 30 refugees shot dead in coastal waters

Thirty-one Somali refugees were reportedly killed off the coast of Yemen late on Thursday when a helicopter attacked the boat they were travelling in, a coastguard in the Houthi-controlled Hudaydah area has said.

Yemen's al-Masirah television reported on Thursday that the boat which came under attack was carrying Somali refugees near Bab al-Mandeb Strait.

A Saudi-led coalition, which is conducting an air campaign and fighting alongside Yemen's internationally recognized government, has accused the Shiite Houthi rebels of using Hodeida as a smuggling route for weapons.

Elsewhere, Saudi mercenaries shot dead a Yemeni woman in the town of Ma'afir in Yemen's Ta'izz province.

The coalition, which in general controls Yemen's airspace, has not commented on the incident.

A Saudi-led coalition was formed in 2015 to fight the Houthis and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who have fired missiles into neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International stated earlier this week that Washington's arming of the coalition could implicate the United States in war crimes and result in even more civilian deaths. He said the helicopter then stopped firing, but only after dozens had been killed. They finally managed to hold up flashlights and show the helicopter they were poor migrants.

Mohammed was not hurt in the attack.

The incident occurred at around 3 a.m. local time, according to Joel Millman, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration.

He added that they were aware of 80 survivors brought to hospitals in Hodeidah.

Shabia Mantoo, the Yemen spokeswoman for refugee agency UNHCR, said refugees and asylum seekers were moving out of Yemen and heading north because of deteriorating conditions. Its report couldn't immediately be confirmed.

Yemen has been suffering from a civil war and a Saudi-led military intervention for around two years. Despite a war that has cost more than 7,000 lives since March 2015 and brought the country to the brink of starvation, Yemen continues to attract people fleeing the horn of Africa.

  • Elsie Buchanan