A helicopter strike off Yemen’s Hodeida coast on Thursday night has killed up to 42 Somali refugees, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Saturday.
“Latest Hodeida boat incident update: 42 now reported dead and 39 injured survivors receiving treatment in Hodeida hospitals,” UNHCR said in its twitter account.
On Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross put the death toll at 33, and said 29 were injured and dozens others still missing.
According to Yemen’s Houthi-controlled Saba news agency, the Somali refugees came under an air attack late Thursday night, blaming a Saudi-led military coalition which is keeping tight control of the Red Sea and the Strait of Bab al-Mandeb off the western Yemeni coasts.
Yemeni officials said the refugees, carrying UNHCR documents, were in a boat travelling from Hodeida to Sudan.
Sheba al-Muallimy, a spokesman of the International Immigration Organization office in Sanaa, told Xinhua that the organization has no hand in coordinating the Somali refugees’ journey on Thursday night.
The organization didn’t know that the Somali refugees were travelling to Sudan to escape the conflict in Yemen, until very late.
The Houthis have been controlling northern Yemen, including Hodeida, after they ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in late 2014.
In March 2015, an Arab coalition army led by Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen’s conflict to support Hadi’s troops against Houthi fighters to restore power to Hadi.
The coalition forces have been imposing tight control over the Red Sea and strategic strait of Bab al-Mandab which links the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden.
The war has so far killed more than 10,000 Yemenis, half of them civilians, and displaced over two million others, according to humanitarian agencies. Enditem