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Shipwreck off the Yemen shore

· More than sixty African immigrants missing ·

The Gulf of Aden is similar to the Strait of Sicily. A ship with 160 African immigrants on board capsized yesterday off the shore of the province of Shabwa, in southern Yemen. A local news source, Yemen Akhbar, reported the incident, citing information from several humanitarian organizations that work in the area. The ship, according to sources, had left the Somalian port of Bosaso, and was carrying a hundred Somalis and sixty Ethiopians, many of whom were women and children. It is not yet clear whether rescuers arrived in time or not; at present at least 60 persons are missing. Extremely rough seas caused the vessel to overturn. Some of Yemen Akhbar’s local sources claim that there were five drowning victims, while others say there was only one. Some paint a much more dramatic picture of the loss. This is not the first time that the Gulf of Aden, which separates the coast of Yemen from Somalia, is a theater of death for African immigrants. Last January, at least thirty immigrants seeking to re-enter Africa from Yemen died in a shipwreck. According to some of the surviving witnesses, it is well known by now that this route is controlled by human trafficking groups who take full advantage of the terrible crises that exist in these two countries, Somalia and Yemen. The situation is much like that of the Mediterranean. Yesterday, sixty-six Tunisians were discovered aboard a vessel drifting off the shore of Pantelleria and rescued. The immigrants were transported aboard two Coast Guard and Italian Tax Police patrol boats to the port of Trapani, where they disembarked in the middle of the night.

In the meantime, the Libyan prime minister of the Government of National Accord, Al Sarraj, recognized by the United Nations, was interviewed about the question of immigration. He said, “Libya is completely against the European Union’s idea to create structures within different countries where illegal immigrants are welcomed”.

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