DUBAI-A boat carrying Somali refugees apparently came under attack off Yemen's coast Friday, killing at least 42 people, according to an worldwide organization that aids migrants. The coalition has been backing pro-government forces waging an offensive from the south to retake Yemen's Red Sea coast from Huthi rebel forces.
The spokesperson for the coalition, General Ahmed al-Asseri, said they did not conduct any operations or have any engagement in the Hodeidah area on Thursday.
"We just got information of a helicopter assault on a boat leaving Yemen, we believe for Sudan, full of Somalis", Joel Millman said.
The war by Saudi Arabia, which seeks to restore Yemen's former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, to power, has killed over 12,000 Yemenis, according to recent tallies. Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition in the war in Yemen, has USA -built Apache A-64 Longbow attack helicopters. Several refugee camps in southern Yemen host Somali refugees, although not in the Hodeida area.
UNHCR spokeswoman in Yemen, Shabia Mantoo, confirmed that a number of refugees were killed. Children were reported to be among the dead.
"As conditions in Yemen further deteriorate as a result of ongoing conflict, refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly resorting to move onwards from Yemen further north, taking well-established migratory routes". "We strongly condemn this attack and deplore such a tragic loss of life", the ICRC's director of operations, Dominik Stillhart, said in a statement.
Since March 2015, violent conflict between two factions claiming to constitute the Yemeni government has created a vast crisis in Yemen and millions of people face threats to their safety and basic human rights.
Local reports suggest attack was carried out by Saudi-led Coalition helicopters.
UPI reported Thursday that Boeing just this week "received a $3.2 billion contract modification to support the U.S. Army's foreign military sale of Apache helicopters to Saudi Arabia". Seven fishermen were also killed off Hodeida by gunfire from an unidentified source, while a further seven were killed in a vehicle near Mokha, hospital workers said. Around two-thirds of the population is in dire need of food and medical assistance.