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At least 15 people die including pregnant woman off the coast of Yemen
At least 15 people die including pregnant woman off the coast of Yemen

GENEVA, Feb 6 (KUNA) -- At least 15 people including a pregnant Somali woman, died on Thursday off the coast of Yemen while disembarking in deep water from two smugglers boats which feared coming closer to shore, said Tuesday the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

According to UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis, the two boats were carrying an estimated 260 people across the Gulf of Aden from the Somali port of Bosaso. The incident took place 270 kilometers from Aden.

On Friday, another boat arrived at the coast between Aden and Hadramout carrying 51 Somalis and nine Ethiopians.

The new arrivals, as a rule accepted by the Yemenis as refugees on a prima facie basis, were registered and the Ethiopians were given appointment slips for further interviews.

The new arrivals reported that thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians in Bosaso, including families with small children, are waiting to cross the Gulf of Aden. Some estimated the numbers to be more than 9,000.

Several Somalis told UNHCR that the left their homes before and during the hostilities between the Ethiopian army and the Union of Islamic Courts forces, but were forced to stay in Bosaso due to rough sea conditions.

They also said that smugglers had become more careful of the Yemeni coast guard which has increased its patrols.

UNHCR estimates that there are currently more than 88,000 registered refugees in Yemen including 84,000 Somalis.

More than 26,000 people have been recorded arriving in Yemen from Somalia since January 2006. At least 340 people have died making the dangerous journey, while more than 300 remain missing.

KUNA 061837 Feb 07NNNN

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