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African migrants claiming to be wrongly-held in Yemen prison

December 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Detainees are being released from a prison in Yemen 30 September, 2019 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Dozens of would-be North African migrants held in the central Prison in Taiz, south of Yemen, want to return to their homeland, saying that poverty forced them to leave.

78 Africans including three women who set out from the Horn of Africa, mainly from Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, hoping for a better life ended up in al-Dabab district jail in western Taiz.

The migrants have been held in prison for three months and say they travelled through Yemen seeking refuge and work in other countries.

The Yemeni authorities said they had to put the migrants in Taiz prison as there was no other appropriate shelter for them.

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They migrants share their food with other Yemeni prisoners.

One north African migrant said they did not commit any crime that requires them to be imprisoned.“We receive daily promises to get us out of prison without interest. We are tired and want to return to our families and homes,” Abu Zaid said.

We came to Yemen as a transit station to Saudi Arabia, in search of livelihood, and dreamed of a life of comfort and reassurance, before we ended up in this prison,

he added.

An African woman who is also being held in Taiz prison said they were unaware that there is a war in Yemen.

She said:

Our goal was to enter Saudi Arabia in search of work. I want nothing but to return to my country and embrace my family,

she added.

War-ravaged Yemen is suffering from the conflict between regional powers, Shia-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia. It also sees an irregular influx of migrants trying to reach Saudi Arabia.

Authorities claimed the African migrants illegally entered Yemen to join Houthi rebels fighting Yemeni government forces.

Many of them were arrested on the front lines, a local official, who asked not to be named, added in an earlier interview with Anadolu Agency Video News (AAVN).

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A few days ago, the United Nations reported that Yemen has received 120,680 immigrants from the Horn of Africa since the beginning of 2019.

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.