Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 11:39 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Yemen

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 14 June 2006
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Yemen , 14 June 2006, available at: [accessed 24 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

In July, Yemen reportedly returned 120 Ethiopians to their country. In October, the Government deported another 500 illegal immigrants, including 110 Ethiopians and 90 Somalis. Authorities also reportedly denied some Iraqis readmission to Yemen despite their having families in the country.

Although Yemen ratified the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1980, and its Constitution stated, "no political refugee shall be extradited," it had no domestic asylum or refugee law. The Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1992, establishing the agency's presence in the country and the inter-ministerial National Committee for Refugee Affairs in 2000. National asylum legislation, however, remained under parliamentary deliberation.

Yemen granted Somali refugees prima facie status upon registration, and extended the same status to a select group of Ethiopians – including ethnic Oromo and former naval personnel who defected in 1991. Others could apply to UNHCR for refugee status determinations. In October, UNHCR announced plans for a two-year joint program with the Government to repatriate 50,000 Somalis illegally residing in the country.

Foreigners had to register their presence with police or immigration authorities within one month of arrival. The Government also reserved the right to deport HIV-positive persons.

In August, tribesmen kidnapped ten UNHCR staff in Shebwa, demanding that the Government resolve a land dispute. In December, Yemeni security forces violently dispersed hundreds of refugees who had been protesting outside the UNHCR office in Sana'a for the past month. One refugee died in the incident and there were several injuries. Security forces reportedly raped a number of Somali women who fled the protest to a nearby construction site.

Yemenis often insulted and beat African refugees, reportedly raping or murdering some. Female refugees who worked as domestic servants were at high risk of rape.

At least 150 asylum seekers drowned while trying to make the passage from Somalia on decrepit boats.

Detention/Access to Courts

During the year, the Government released 40 refugees from detention after holding them for various lengths of time without specific charges. It also released 38 refugees detained after the December protest in early 2006. Detention of refugees was common throughout the year, and authorities did not segregate criminals from refugees.

Yemen permitted human rights monitors limited access to detention facilities and detainees. However, according to the U.S. State Department, torture and abuse were common in Yemen's detention centers.

UNHCR funded community centers that offered legal counseling to recognized refugees.

UNHCR issued identification cards valid for two years to refugees, which allowed them to move freely within the country. However, many refugees reported long waiting periods to obtain the cards. Yemeni police routinely arrested undocumented refugees and asylum seekers.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

About 8,000 refugees, many women and children, lived in the al-Kharaz camp about 87 miles (140 km) outside Aden, where they reportedly required permission to leave. Most refugees self-settled in urban centers near Sana'a, Aden, or Taiz.

Security officials at government checkpoints often required immigrants and refugees traveling within the country to show resident status or refugee identification cards and reportedly refused passage to those who lacked them. Armed tribesmen occasionally installed independent roadblocks or joined security officials at checkpoints. Yemeni law also required homeowners to inform the authorities within 48 hours of any foreigner staying in their homes.

The Government issued refugees one-time exit visas upon permanent departure from the country.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

Yemen did not allow refugees to work legally. Many refugees worked informally, most often in menial jobs that Yemenis considered beneath them. Less often, refugees worked in UN offices and foreign embassies. About 7,000 foreign women, including refugees, worked as maids in Yemeni homes.

Yemen's 1991 Presidential Legislative Order to promulgate the Labour Code placed numerous restrictions on the employment of foreigners, with no exceptions for refugees. Most importantly for refugees, it banned the employment of foreigners who entered the country for reasons other than employment. It required employers to apply in advance for permission to bring foreign workers into the country, and required that they obtain certification from the Ministry of Social Security, Social Affairs and Labour that said there were no Yemeni workers available for the position. It also capped the employment of foreigners at ten percent for every firm.

Public Relief and Education

Authorities allocated plots of farmland, tools, and seeds to camp-based refugees. UNHCR subsidized the enrollment of self-settled urban refugee children in local primary schools. Al-Kharaz camp offered primary education to refugee children in Arabic and Somali.

UNHCR-issued refugee cards entitled refugees to health services, education, and food rations. UNHCR and the World Food Programme also provided food, water, and electricity to nearby Yemeni villages. Refugee health clinics run by UNHCR or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) offered treatment and made referrals to local hospitals. Public hospitals did not provide obstetric or gynecological care to unaccompanied women, forcing many refugee female heads-of-household to rely solely on the NGO clinics.

Yemen allowed humanitarian agencies to assist refugees with little interference.

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