The number of people confirmed dead after smugglers forced hundreds of refugees overboard off the coast of Yemen has risen to 29, the UN refugee agency said Monday, and another 71 people are still missing.
Knife-wielding smugglers forced 450 Somalis and Ethiopians overboard into stormy seas along a remote stretch of Yemen coastline at Ras-Alkalb in the Gulf of Aden last Thursday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement.
The smugglers forced their passengers overboard so they could make a speedy departure after being spotted by Yemeni security forces, said UNHCR spokeswoman Astrid van Genderen Stort.
It was the latest case of smuggler brutality involving boats carrying people across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It brings the total number of dead and missing among people trying to reach Yemen so far this year to 262.