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Overcrowded boat capsizes off Yemen coast, 30 drowned; UN agencies condemn smugglers

Overcrowded boat capsizes off Yemen coast, 30 drowned; UN agencies condemn smugglers

India Blooms News Service | | 27 Jan 2018, 07:38 am

New York, Jan 27 (JEN): At least 30 refugees and migrants drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of Aden, Yemen, the United Nations reported on Friday, saying the overcrowded vessel was believed to have been operated by unscrupulous smugglers who were trying to extort money from the passengers.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed outrage and sadness over the incident, which occurred Tuesday.

“As we have been saying for almost five years now, the preservation of human life is our utmost priority everywhere,” IOM Director William Lacy Swing said Friday in Davos, Switzerland, where he has been part of the UN agency delegation attending the 2018 World Economic Forum.

“Yemen is no exception,” he added

Survivors of the incident have reported to the UN and partners that an overcrowded boat, packed with 101 Ethiopians and 51 Somalis, departed 23 January from the Al Buraiqa coast in Aden, headed across the Gulf of Aden towards Djibouti.

At least 30 people have died in this tragic incident. There have also been reports that gunfire was used against passengers.

“We are deeply troubled by reports of this latest incident,” Swing stressed.

IOM and partners are working with the Yemeni Coast Guard to further understand the incident and provide emergency assistance to survivors, including medicine, food, water and psycho-social support services.

IOM and the Un refugee agency have long been warning that prolonged conflict and insecurity in Yemen exposes vulnerable refugees and migrants to a heightened risk of human rights violations, such as arbitrary arrest, detention, trafficking and deportation.

Yemen is a traditional transitory and migratory hub in the region. Despite prevailing conflict and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian conditions more than 87,000 migrants and refugees risked their lives on the high seas in 2017 – seeking to reach Yemen from the Horn of Africa by boat.

To raise awareness about the horrendous risks and dangers in Yemen, UNHCR launched a Dangerous Crossings regional awareness campaign last year to inform those contemplating the journey.

IOM, UNHCR and their partners are members of the Mixed Migration Working Group in Yemen, which has been responding to the needs of migrants and refugees there. The Group is appealing for more urgent support to respond to the needs of those most vulnerable in Yemen and to actively pursue solutions for refugees and migrants.

Photo: UNHCR/R. Nuri

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm