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Yemen: Concerns over Ethiopian detainees

Briefing notes

Yemen: Concerns over Ethiopian detainees

8 December 2006

In Yemen, we remain concerned about a group of 126 Ethiopians who have been detained for more than 12 days and threatened with deportation by the authorities. On 1 December, UNHCR expressed concern about the group and asked for access to determine if they were refugees. But, despite various appeals access has still not been granted. Instead, we have been informed the group will be deported in the coming days. UNHCR was told Ethiopian embassy officials have been given access to the detainees in order to prepare identity papers for their return journey. We also have unconfirmed reports that Ethiopians who arrived in the last few days have also been detained. Yemeni officials said earlier all non-Somali new arrivals will be detained and deported to their home countries.

UNHCR continues to appeal to the Yemen government to abide by its international obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and provide UNHCR with access to this group and other new arrivals who could fear persecution in their country of origin. Yemen has previously generously kept its doors open for tens of thousands of people arriving on its coast every year after making the perilous crossing of the Gulf of Aden. We urge the government to continue this policy. UNHCR has consistently offered to help Yemen screen and register all new arrivals. This offer remains open.

This year, more than 22,000 people have been recorded arriving in Yemen from Somalia. The number of Ethiopians arriving from Somalia has increased over the past month. Many Ethiopians do not register for fear of being deported and instead attempt to travel on to the Gulf States.