There is human catastrophe unfolding in Yemen at this very minute. Two hundred and forty four Eritreans ninety five percent of whom are Afar citizens of Eritrea are in prison some for almost one year. Their crime is simply for entering Yemen without document. Their claim for political asylum until situation at home is improved was completely ignored by the Yemeni authorities and the UNHCR is on the sideline simply watching helpless.
As it is true with most Eritreans, this particular ethnic group is driven out of their traditional areas, prevented from leading their subsistence existence which is fishing on the Red Sea and forcibly conscripted in the open ended military National Service which has become scourge to close to 300,000 young people in the country. To escape the everyday harsh reality in their country and the constant threat of conscription, these young people ranging from age 14 to 35 had to flee to neighboring countries including Yemen.
Unfortunately, the victims of human right abuse were once again found themselves in the prisons of Yemen where they hoped they will find relief. The prisoners are currently locked up in Hodeida prison deprived of basic necessities of life including medical treatment. Our source indicates that about 40 of the prisoners are sick with the disease spreading to lactating women and children. So far no one is attending the sick and the prison authorities are not willing to isolate the sick from the healthy to stop what seems a contagious disease. To protest their inhuman treatment, many of the prisoners are on hunger strike. The hunger strike is on its third day.
According to the list of names available to ICER the number of people from the ages of 16 to 18 year old is 45; those from 19 to 25 years old are 149, while prisoners between the age of 26 and 35 are 42. Sadly enough there are 5 under age children ranging from 14 to 15 years old.
Given the dire condition of the refugee at the moment, we demand that the UNHCR intervene on their behalf and assume responsibility of sheltering them until the opportunity of repatriation to a third country becomes available.