At least 31 Somali refugees are dead after the boat they were traveling in from Yemen to Sudan was attacked by what might have been a U.S.-made Apache helicopter.
International Organization for Migration (IOM) confirmed “dozens of deaths and many dozens of survivors brought to hospitals.”
A local coastguard officer told Reuters that “the refugees, carrying official [United Nations Refugee Agency] documents, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked by an Apache helicopter near the Bab al-Mandeb strait.”
If the reports are true, Yemen Peace Project director of policy and advocacy Kate Kizer noted online, the Apache helicopter “likely was U.S. sold,
#Saudi manned (last sale last fall).”
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Journalist Samuel Oakford wrote:
Middle East Eye reported: “Photos from the scene showed bodies of men, women, and children laid out on the ground at a small harbor, covered in pieces of colored fabric.”
The outlet added:
The Guardian further reported:
The U.N. Refugee Agency said it was “appalled” by the incident.
“As conditions in Yemen deteriorate as a result of the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis, refugees and asylum seekers are increasingly fleeing onwards, following established migratory routes, including across the Red Sea to Sudan with the intention of heading onwards to Europe,” said agency spokesman William Spindler. “This tragic incident is the latest in which innocent civilians, including Yemenis, refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, continue to suffer and disproportionately bear the brunt of the conflict in Yemen.”
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.” The U.S. has already sold dozens of Apaches to Saudi Arabia, along with billions in additional arms. On Tuesday, Amnesty International urged the Trump administration to halt future sales immediately.