Somali refugees in Yemen feel oppressed [Archives:2006/935/Local News]

April 6 2006

SANA'A, April 5 ) Somali refugees in Yemen urged the National Authority for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) to intervene in the issue between them and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Somali refugees requested HOOD settle negotiations between them and the UNHCR, which forced them to conduct a sit-in in front of UNHCR premises in Sana'a last November and December.

In their letter, the refugees mentioned that they no longer want to live in Yemen, as their demands remained unmet. They said there is no plan for refugees' education, nor do they have medical services, despite the fact that there are many health centers but they are not supplied with medical equipment.

They indicated that their cards do not ensure them the right to travel around the republic, nor do they ensure education or work. They complained that they are denied the right to appoint lawyers to defend themselves, as they often are subjected to arrest and arbitrary conduct by police.

“We need a sound solution. We do not want chaos,” the refugees added. They pointed out that UNHCR officials are not ready to discuss their issues or fulfill their needs. They called for dialogue with the UNHCR to list their demands, including compensation for what happened to them and tackling their issues.

“Concerning the transfer of refugees to another country, we believe that the UNHCR office in Yemen is unable to fulfill this task, and if it can, this will take a long period of time,” HOOD Chairman, lawyer Mohamed Naji Allaw, said in a statement.

“Other demands including the right to education, work, health care and protection are the duties of UNHCR. We notice that UNHCR is remiss, as it never defends refugees. We told it to do its duty toward refugees, but it did not respond, despite the fact that it contracted with lawyers to tackle refugees' issues,” Allaw added. HOOD pledged to help the refugees and tackle their issues at various levels.