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Yemen: Calls for probe into deadly fire at migrant detention centre

Members of African communities stage a conference following a fire inside their immigration detention centre in in Sana'a, Yemen on 13 March 2021 [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]
Members of African communities stage a conference following a fire inside their immigration detention centre in in Sana'a, Yemen on 13 March 2021 [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]

European diplomatic missions in Yemen and the US have called for investigations into a fatal fire at a migrants' detention centre in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a that has claimed the lives of at least 43 people, news agencies reported on Friday.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), around 900 migrants, mainly from Ethiopia, were held at the facility when the blaze took place on Sunday.

Hundreds were wounded, and at least 43 of the deceased were buried in a Sana'a cemetery on Friday amid tight security and fears that the death toll could rise.

The number of migrants at the facility was three times the facility's capacity, according to the IOM.

In a statement, EU diplomatic missions in Yemen expressed deep sorrow over the incident and the losses among the migrants in Sana'a.

The statement called for the Houthi militia to allow the immediate access of humanitarian organisations, including the IOM, to all the cites and hospitals where the wounded and survivors are staying.

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"The EU Heads of Mission call for an immediate external, independent investigation into the incident, and for accountability and redress to the victims and their families," the joint statement announced.

It added: "The deadly outcome is linked to the appalling conditions in which migrants are being held in the centre, for which the de facto authorities in Sana'a are responsible."

Meanwhile, the US State Department called on Friday for an immediate investigation into the incident and for the Houthis to disclose the truth.

"We are deeply saddened by reports of deaths and injuries due to a fire at a migrant detention facility in Sana'a, which a Human Rights Watch report says resulted from the Houthis' suppression of protest at the location," a spokesperson from the State Department expressed.

The spokesperson added: "It is critical that the Houthis allow assistance to reach those in need without impediment, and that there be an investigation into the causes of the fire and accountability for those responsible."

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