Sana’a. Airline official to deport Eritrean refugees stranded in airport
By Roberto Malini - Co-founder, EveryOne Group, Italy Rome/Sana'a - An airline official is arbitrarily trying to deport four Eritrean refugees who were stranded in the airport for a month. This is the first time Yemen has
By Roberto Malini – Co-founder, EveryOne Group, Italy
Rome/Sana’a – An airline official is arbitrarily trying to deport four Eritrean refugees who were stranded in the airport for a month. This is the first time Yemen has deported asylum seekers against their will.
EveryOne Group, Eritrean Concern, ICER and other Human Rights organizations are asking the UNHCR to condemn the action as strongly as possible and ask the Yemeni Government to stop the unjust deportation of fellow human beings to Eritrea. We are also asking the High Commissioner to exercise the necessary diplomatic pressure to ensure that similar events do not occur again in the future. The NGOs have also sent to the government of Yemen a condemnation of the action taken against the four Eritreans, pointing out that, if Yemen is not willing to accord the right of refugee status according to the 1951 UN Convention, to at least provide them the opportunity to travel to a nearby third country where they will be given temporary refuge.
Below, the report we received, describing the dramatic event.
On Friday December 16th, 2011, four Eritrean asylum seekers were forced to board a Yemenia flight to Asmara by the Yemen authorities. The two Eritreans who escaped to Sudan went to Kenya, and from there via Sana’a to Istanbul. They tore up their documents in order to seek asylum in Istanbul, but were sent back to Sana’a and again to Istanbul back to Sana’a. They had torn up their documents due to the bad situation and dictatorial regime in Eritrea. They had been at Sana’a International Airport for over a month.
The other two Etritreans – a man and a woman – arrived at Sana’a International Airport from Kenya last week. They have stayed there in view of the fact that they have a fake visa to Chile. The UNHCR Sana’a office has been informed of the two Eritreans who came from Sudan, but, the agency has informed the Yemeni Government accordingly, but has not been able to gain access from the government to see them.
The Eritrean Embassy in Sana’a has involved the Yemeni authorities, and a member of the Yemeni Airways staff, Abdelrahman, at Sana’a Airport, has agreed with the embassy to deport them back to Eritrea. He has become involved despite the fact that he is only an airliner employee. It is not his duty, it is the responsibility of the Yemeni office of political security and immigration authorities. He has said that the first two Eritreans to arrive have been at the airport for a month and nobody had informed him. They have asked to see the embassy staff, but they refused to do that. The Yemeni political security and the UNHCR has called him to stop involuntarily this repatriation, but he said that the flight has already left, which is not true. He has also been told that if Yemen will not accept them they could have a chance to be deported to other nearby countries. However, he has refused to do that and he did it with cooperation of state security personnel at the airport. He has no right to deport them back involuntarily, but, he could make them return to where they came from. They were threatened and forced on board.
Nobody knows their whereabouts and Yemen is responsible for their lives. Both the UNHCR Sana’a office and its partner, the Yemen Government, are not treating the asylum seekers and refugees, who are now living in Sana’a, humanely.
Therefore, please contact and inform the relevant international organizations, Eritrean agencies, and NGOs. Although this is the first time Yemen has deported asylum seekers unwillingly, we have to ensure this does not happen again in the future.
December 23, 2011