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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Saudi-led coalition blamed for massacre of over 40 migrants on boat

Foreign Affairs Minister Abdusalam Omer speaking to the Somalia news agency SONNA on state TV demanded answers to the attack on a refugee boat off the coast of Yemen that killed 42 Somali migrants.

Omer said: "We hold the government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the coalition responsible for the killing of 42 refugees in Yemen They must give dignified burial to the dead treat the wounded and contact their relatives". Omer claimed that the boat that carried over 140 migrants suffered 21 wounded as well as those killed. He said that the an Apache helicopter attacked the boat near the port of Al Hudeibiyah that is controlled by Houthi Shiite rebels who are at war with the Hadi government that is supported by a Saudi-led coalition.
An account in the Independent claims that the attack was not just by an Apache helicopter but a military vessel as well. The Somailia government has urged the U.S.-supported Saudi-led coalition to investigate. The vessel was more than 30 miles off the Yemen coast when attacked. The article quotes Omer as saying: “What happened there was a horrific and terrible problem inflicted on innocent Somali people. The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen is responsible for it.” Omer said that the Yemen government of Mansour Hadi must give an explanation of the attack which he said injured 80 people--increasing the injured figure from an earlier report. He also said that those responsible for the attack must be brought to justice. In a separate statement Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire described the incident as atrocious and appalling. The Houthi rebels also blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the incident.
Laurent de Boeck head of the Yemeni office of the International Organization for Migration said the agency believe that all those on board the boat were registered refugees. A survivor Al-Hassan Mohammed said the boat left from Ras Arra along the southern coast of Hodeida province in Yemen. It was near the Bab al-Mandab Strait when the attack happened. He said there was a scene of panic as migrants waved flashlights to show they were not combatants. Eventually the helicopter stopped firing but only after dozens were killed. A video of the aftermath shows dozens of slain migrants along with others who had suffered wounds or had broken arms or legs.
The Saudi coalition has been heavily bombing the coast and accuses the rebels of smuggling weapons in small boats. Since the beginning of the Saudi-led air campaign Yemen has been under an air and sea embargo. The Saudi coalition is the only party to the conflict with naval and air forces. Human rights groups have documented many air strikes in which civilians have been killed.
The Saudi-led coalition has denied responsibility for the raid. A statement said that the port of Hodeida should be placed under UN supervision but also said: “We are also aware of allegations that the attack was carried out by a helicopter and naval vessel belonging to the Saudi-led coalition. We can confirm the coalition was not responsible for any attack on a refugee boat on Friday and… there was no firing by any coalition forces on Friday in the area." Putting the port under UN supervision would help the flow of humanitarian aid and at the same time stop the use of the port for weapons smuggling and people trafficking the statement claimed.


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