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Sarura Ali (right) covered her eyes from wind-blown dust as she stood with her six children outside a food distribution point in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya on Tuesday (July 5, 2011). Sarura, her husband and their children trekked for eight days from their home in Sakow, Somalia. War and drought are forcing many Somalis to take desperate measures. (AFP/Getty Images)

200 Somalis Presumed Dead After Boat Sinks Off Sudan

Jul 6, 2011

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"About 200 people drowned in the Red Sea [Tuesday]," the BBC writes, "when a boat carrying migrants to Saudi Arabia sank off Sudan's coast after catching fire, Sudanese media says. Only three people have been rescued, according to the Sudanese Media Centre (SMC), a state-linked news agency. A governing party official told the BBC he believed the passengers were Somalis likely to be fleeing the drought."

According to The Associated Press, local media are also reporting that "the owners of the boat, all Yemenis, have been arrested."

As the AP adds, "human trafficking is rife in Sudan as smugglers use locally manufactured boats and take advantage of lawless areas in the conflict-ridden country."

And Reuters notes that "Somali refugees, fleeing their war-town country, often try going to Saudi Arabia via the sea with the help of smugglers. Many end up first in the kingdom's poor southern neighbor Yemen which is closer to Somalia."

Refugees are also fleeing from "the worst drought in 60 years" across the Horn of Africa, the BBC says.

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