Ninety of the 140 missing Somali migrants to Yemen have been buried in mass graves in the Bir Ali area of Shabwa after their bodies were found floating off the coast, members of the Somali community in the capital, Sana’a, said on Wednesday.
The head of the Somali community, Mohammed Ali Hersi, called for greater efforts to find the remaining migrants still missing at sea. “It is really a terrible mishap and we feel very sorry for those who died and those who are still missing,” he said.
Hersi added that the survivors were in a miserable condition, and that not all of them had been sent to the refugee reception centre in Mayfa'a, Shabwa.
“There are still some survivors in Bir Ali, left without shelter and anyone to care for them. Among them are four children, who lost their parents during the December incident,” he said. On 27 December, four boats carrying 515 Somalis and Ethiopians capsized off the Yemeni coast after crossing the Gulf of Aden, claiming 17 people, and 140 went missing.
Two of the smugglers' boats had reportedly offloaded their passengers and were then fired on by Yemeni security forces, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement issued on 28 December, adding that the smugglers returned fire.
Survivors said they came from the troubled areas of Bur-Hakaba, Baidoa and Beletweyne in central Somalia. Many had fled the conflict between the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government and the Union of Islamic Courts.
There are 84,000 Somali refugees registered in Yemen. Of these 23,000 arrived in the country in 2006; more than 360 died entering the country and 300 were missing at sea.