At least 30 African refugees were drowned after their boat capsized off the coast of Yemen, amid reports of gunfire being used against those on board.

Around 153 Ethiopians and Somalis were aboard the vessel as it sailed from the southern port of Aden in war-torn Yemen to Djibouti, a tiny country on the Horn of Africa, said UN body the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today (26 January).

The cramped boat, which set sail three days earlier, was operated by "unscrupulous smugglers" who were "trying to extort more money" from the migrants when it capsized amid confusion and gunshots.

Over 100 survivors were picked up by the Yemeni Coast Guard, They are receiving medical and other assistance from international aid agencies.

More than 9,200 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015, when a Saudi-led military coalition began to battle Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, in order to restore the country's internationally recognised government to power.

Although the migrants in this boat were heading back to sub-Saharan Africa, more than 87,000 African refugees flooded into Yemen last year despite its civil war.

The nation acts as a migratory hub in the region for those seeking work in richer Arab countries, and for those looking to find jobs in Europe.

IOM director William Lacy Swing said: "We are deeply troubled by reports of this latest incident."

She was speaking in the Swiss ski resort of Davos where business and world leaders are gathered this week at the World Economic Forum.