Long-time defender of EthiopiansHabebah appeals for the protection of Ethiopians [Archives:2004/718/Community]

March 8 2004

Habebah Hussein Mohamed, an Ethiopian national residing in Yemen as a refugee for more than 26 years has been a long-time volunteer to defend other Ethiopians in need of someone to report their daily sufferings to the Yemeni authorities.
Because of that, she has encountered many problems and harassment, either from Ethiopians working for the new government or from Yemenis unsympathetic to Ethiopians. She says an encounter has resulted in losing one of her eyes.
With regards to the current situation of the Ethiopian refugees, Habebah said that she is dedicating her time to defending the 530 who remain; the rest having been either repatriated or moved to another country.
She said that the problem of refugees began in 1995 when the Yemeni Government halted the material support, shelter, food and water and kicked out from their camp in Taiz. They were technically homeless in Yemen, she says. The security authorities later on began to arrest them and several were imprisoned.
Only Habebah was writing complaints to Refugees Division of Ministry of Interior for their release. Their situation was deteriorating from bad to worse, she said.
The Yemeni Authority asked the High Commissioner for Refugee in Geneva to find solutions for the 530 Ethiopian former officers and files in which they received assistant from end of 1995 till 1999, represented temporary resident permit and protection as refugees. The Refugee Commission to Sana'a stopped issuing these permits as refugees on the pretext the instruction of the Yemeni authorities not to grant them this identity.
Habebah, through the various media means, is urging the Yemeni Authorities and High Commissioner for Refugees to deal with the Ethiopian in Yemen humanly and not to vow to pressure the Ethiopian Government to repatriate them against their wills.
She also calls on the international organization and the United Nations affiliated organizations on refugees and peaceful settlement of disputes to intervene to accept them as refugees n Yemen or find a third country for them as their lives are still in danger by the current regime in Addis Ababa.