Jul 07, 2011

Oromo: Refugees Need Protection, Not Punishment


Oromo refugees are the recipients of further violence from the Yemeni government, which threatens to send them back to the homeland where they originally fled violence and extra-judicial persecutions.

Below is a statement released by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa:

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express it deep sadness over the indiscriminate attacks against Oromo and Eritrean refugees in Sana’a, Yemen on the 3rd of July, 2011. According to HRLHA correspondents in Sana’a, about 35 refugees have received major and minor injuries from attacks by the armed forces of the Yemeni Government. 

The victims include two expecting women and two very young children. Eye witnesses have confirmed that the armed forced used tear gas, water and live ammunitions; and two of the injured refugees were shot at by bullets – one around his neck and another on his leg.

HRLHA  has learned that the refugees, almost all of whom were Oromos from Ethiopia, have been staging continued protest in front of the UNHCR office in Sana’a following the onset of the unrest in Yemen; and were requesting for a transfer to another country mainly due to lack of security. As a result of the unrest, the refugees have been assaulted and robbed by local people, kicked out of their rented homes, fired from their temporary jobs without pay for what they worked, etc; and these were among the reasons that forced them to stage the protest. HRLHA has also learnt that the refugees have even named a committee who could approach the Yemeni Government and the UNHCR on their behalf and discuss ways of transfer and for permanent solution. It is very saddening that those refugees who were following such civilized routes of resolving a problem were met with harsh measures by a government who is also responsible for the safety and security of the refugees. The refugees complain and claim that the Yemeni Government said the transfer is possible only if it is back to their homeland – Ethiopia, and Eritrea – where they fled in an effort to escape insecurities and extra-judicial persecutions.

HRLHA calls upon the Yemeni Government to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 14 (1) “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution,” and international agreements on Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) Article 33(1). – Prohibition of expulsion or return (refoulement): “No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refoule”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,” protocol that it has signed and, first of all, refrain from exposing the refugees to any form of attack; and, secondly, provide them with all kinds of protections that they deserve. HRLHA also calls upon the UNHCR to take all necessary measures to provide protections to refugees depending on the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and also HRLHA’s call extends to other similar international, regional agencies, international communities and governments to discharge their responsibilities in ensuring the safety and security of such refugees, who are helpless and defenseless.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Yemeni Government and its concerned officials as swiftly as possible, in English, Arabic, or your own language expressing:

-Urging the authorities of Yemen to ensure that these refugees are protected in accordance with regional and international standards on the protection of refugees,

-Your concerns to diplomatic representatives of Yemen accredited to your country.

To: 

His Excellency Ali Abdallah SALIH – President of the Republic of Yemen
Address: Street of 26th September, Sana’a Yemen
Tel: (+967 1) 27 30 92 or (+967 1) 27 30 95

His Excellency Ali Muhammad MUJAWWAR , Prime Minster
Address: Street of 26th September, Sana’a Yemen
Tel: (+967 1) 27 30 92 or (+967 1) 27 30 95

His Excellency Rashad Muhammad al-ALIMI, Dep. Prime Min. for Security & Defense Affairs
Address: Street of 26th September, Sana’a Yemen
Tel: (+967 1) 27 30 92 or (+967 1) 27 30 95

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 917 9022 (particularly for urgent matters)
E-mail: tb-petitions@ohchr.org

UNHCR Main Office, Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Case
Postale 2500 CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt Suisse
Tel: +41 22 739 8111