News / Africa

No Help for Non-Somali Asylum Seekers in Yemen

At 25-years-old, Mulumabet  Addam, an Ethiopian refugee, is a widow, and runs a small music shop in Sana'a
At 25-years-old, Mulumabet Addam, an Ethiopian refugee, is a widow, and runs a small music shop in Sana'a
Heather Murdock

As the Ethiopian elections approach and the region struggles to survive the worst drought since 2000, more and more people flee the Horn of Africa to Yemen every year.  On Yemen's shores, Somalis find safe passage to refugee camps, while non-Somalis flee the beach. Many are arrested and deported without the chance to plea their case to the U.N. refugee agency. 

Here at the Zed Music shop, popular Ethiopian music plays as the shop owner, Mulumabet Addam, watches over her baby daughter sleeping on the floor under the counter.

Mulumabet says as an Ethiopian refugee, her only identification is a letter from the UNHCR.  As far as the Yemeni government is concerned, she is an illegal immigrant.

Mulumabet, like many African refugees, says she is regularly harassed and discriminated against.  Last year, she says, her home was raided and her husband was killed.  Neither the police, nor the UNHCR could help.

It is impossible to tell exactly how many non-Somali refugees from Africa are smuggled across the Gulf of Aden each year, because many hit the beach and start running.  Somalis fleeing war are granted automatic refugee status when they arrive in Yemen, but non-Somali Africans are regularly arrested and deported.

And the number of new arrivals has increased dramatically in the past year, mostly from Ethiopia.

Yemen is only country in the Arabian Peninsula to have signed on to international treaties that obligate the country to allow immigrants a chance to apply for asylum.

UNHCR official Samer Haddadin says that the Yemeni government is correct when it says most of the people coming from Africa to Yemen are looking for jobs, not fleeing persecution.  But he says Yemen still needs to allow everybody the chance to plead their case.

"If there is one asylum seeker, it's a good reason for UNHCR to demand screening all of the thousands [of people leaving] to find that one asylum seeker, so we can make sure that no single refoulement or return by force where a person's life and freedom is being threatened," said Samer Haddadin.

Many non-Somalis that avoid deportation make it to the UNHCR and are recognized as refugees by the international organization, but not by the Yemeni government.  At the moment, almost 5,000 non-Somali Africans are registered with the UNHCR.  

Adventist Development and Relief Agency project manager Soo-Rae Hong says without government identification, non-Somali refugees have trouble renting homes, getting jobs and traveling.

"They are often imprisoned, and you have no right to fight for it because they have no identification," said Soo-Rae Hong. "They are not legally supposed to be in this country."

And since al-Shabab, an extremist militant group in Somalia, has announced its intention to reinforce al-Qaida in Yemen, Africans all over the country have reported a wave of violence and police harassment.  According to the UNHCR's Haddadin, between the violence, the dangerous trip across the Gulf of Aden, and Yemen's lack of support system, the country is not a safe place for non-Somali African refugees.   

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid