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Citizens for Justice and Peace

African migrants in Yemen suffering physical, sexual abuse: HRW

24, Apr 2018 | CJP Team

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has alleged that “Yemeni government officials have tortured, raped, and executed migrants and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa in a detention center” in Yemen. HRW said that ex-detainees informed the organisation that they were kicked, punched and beaten with steel bars and bricks by guards, and also sexually assaulted. They said guards also shot dead at least two men, and took money, pessessions and documentation supplied by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). “Guards at the migrant detention center in Aden have brutally beaten men, raped women and boys, and sent hundreds out to sea in overloaded boats,” according to HRW refugee rights director Bill Frelick. This comes against the backdrop of the conflict in Yemen, which has resulted in what the United Nations has declared as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. HRW said the Aden detention centre has, since early last year, “held several hundred Ethiopian, Somali, and Eritrean migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees”. However, as of April 2018, just around 90 migrants, mostly from Eritrea, were still there. HRW said it spoke to eight migrants who had recently been detained there, along with Yemeni officials and others belonging to migrant communities. Separately, UNHCR has also expressed alarm over the conditions migrants are confronted with in Yemen. “With prolonged conflict and insecurity threatening state institutions and weakening the rule of law, there are growing accounts of extortion, trafficking and deportation,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler recently said, explaining that migrants and refugees reaching Yemen have been regularly detained, arrested, and, in certain instances, forced back to the smugglers who who ferried them to Yemen. UNHCR said that since February it has been monitoring the cases of 100 people who reached Yemen, and that there have been many reports of physical and sexual abuse and psychological harassment. 

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