Oil tanker rescues stranded refugees

Geneva - A Danish oil tanker rescued 39 Somali refugees stranded in a boat off the coast of southern Yemen, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement in Geneva on Friday.

The refugees had spent several days on the open seas after the boat of the smugglers they had paid to take them from Somalia across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen broke down on Wednesday, UNHCR said.

One person died during the trip, while a woman gave birth to a child, the refugee agency said.

"On Thursday afternoon, the 39 Somalis were given permission to dock in Djibouti," after the UN agency was contacted by the Danish tanker, UNHCR said.

At least 75 Ethiopian and Somali boat refugees drowned last week when smugglers taking them to Yemen forced them to jump into the sea.

Since mid-August, another 125 Ethiopians and Somalis aboard six boats heading to Yemen have drowned, according to UNHCR figures.

Every year, thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians flee poverty or violence and try to make their way to Yemen, where many then seek to head for Europe. - Sapa-AFP

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