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  Written By: (YEMEN POST STAFF) 
  Article Date:
January 20, 2009


Many are feared dead after a ferry carrying  300 Somalis and Ethiopians capsized in the Bab El-Mandab strait which connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean via the Gulf of Aden,  the Interior Ministry has said.

The security information center quoted coastguards in Aden province as saying a number of those who were aboard the ship swam to the coast of al-Makha but many are still missing.

Rescue operations have started in search for survivors, coastguards said.

Many of Somali displaced people drown while crossing into Yemen through sea either as boats capsize or as they are sometimes forced by human smugglers to swim to Yemen’s coasts.

During the first half of January 2009, almost 1130 Somali refugees including 260 women and 24 children fled to Yemen. They arrived in the coasts of Shabwa, Hadramout and Taiz.

Security forces in the coastal area of Thubab in the province of al-Makha said they have seized 32 Ethiopians, half of whom were women, along with 9 Somali immigrants.

One of the immigrants died.

Furthermore, six Ethiopians were held at the Nasrin area in the northern province of Saada while they were trying to illegally enter Saudi territories. They are being investigated.

Many Somali arrive in Yemen, almost daily, fleeing deteriorating conditions in their country.

Last figures suggest the number of Somali refugees who have arrived in Yemen since 1991 has reached 800.000.

Somalia has been without a central government since 1991 when the then president was deposed. The country has been in civil conflict with millions of Somali people immigrating to various countries.

Instability in Somalia is one of the main reasons for piracy which has become a growing concern for many countries.

In response to the soaring phenomenon threatening one of the world's busiest waterways where 20.000 ships and vessels pass a year, many countries including Russia have sent naval ships to the Indian Ocean to conduct anti-pirate patrols in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia's coast.