More than 40 people, including women and children, were killed when an Apache helicopter fired on a boat carrying Somali refugees in the Red Sea off war-torn Yemen March 17. A coast guard officer in the Hodeidah area, controlled by Houthi rebel forces, told Reuters the refugees, carrying UNHCR documents, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked near the Bab al-Mandeb strait. The rebel-controlled Saba news agency accused the Saudi-led coalition of being behind the attack. The coalition immediately released a statement denying responsibility. While the International Organization for Migration said 42 bodies have been recovered, the death toll may be much higher. The UNHCR said 140 passengers were believed to have been aboard the vessel.
Despite a war that has cost more than 7,000 lives since March 2015 and brought the country to the brink of famine, Yemen continues to attract people fleeing the Horn of Africa. Several refugee camps in southern Yemen host Somali refugees, although not in the Hodeida area. (Middle East Online, Reuters)