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Yemen Denies Entry To Eritrean, Ethiopian Refugees

UN Seeks Explanation On Yemen’s Denial Of Entry To Eritrean, Ethiopian Refugees

New York, Oct 21 2008 1:10PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today announced that it is seeking an explanation from the Yemeni Government on recent statements that Eritreans and Ethiopians will be denied access to the Middle East country.

The Interior Ministry’s comments coincide with the resumption of smuggling of people from the Horn of Africa – mostly Somalis, but also Ethiopians, Eritreans and others – across the Gulf of Aden.

Until now, Yemen, which has signed the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, has allowed non-Somalis to seek asylum in Yemen if they wished.

“While recognizing the generosity already shown by Yemen to refugees and asylum seekers, we are seeking clarification from the Government on any changes in policy,” said UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond.

In the past two weeks, nearly 90 Ethiopians – including 10 women and two children – in four different groups reported sought asylum and were detained.

“UNHCR has not had access to them, but we have received government assurances of access,” Mr. Redmond told reporters in Geneva.

Yesterday, 25 Ethiopians were taken by authorities to UNHCR’s reception centre at Ahwar.

In the meantime, the number of people smuggled from the Horn of Africa to Yemen continues to grow, with nearly 40,000 having arrived on Yemen’s shores so far this year, with over 600 people have lost their lives making the perilous journey crossing the Gulf of Aden.

This month alone, there have been more than 3,700 arrivals and almost 100 people reported dead or missing.

In 2007, almost 23,000 people arrived from the Horn of Africa, while 900 people died trying to cross to Yemen.

ENDS

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