Geneva-SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties called on the governments in Europe to fulfill their obligations towards Yemeni refugees and improve their legal status, especially those who suffer from a long waiting period to access legal protection that does not exceed a year in some countries, which deprives them of their right to reunification with their families and increases their psychological distress. The organization stressed that the rules of international law specify many of the texts to guarantee the provision of the basic rights of refugees in full, without any derogation.
The organization mentioned in a statement issued today, Monday, on the occasion of World Refugee Day that the seven-year- war in Yemen forced thousands of Yemenis to flee their country of origin and displace in search of a safe place to reclaim their lives after facing a lot of dangers and ill-treatment in their journey to reach safety.
The organization pointed out that it had received a number of complaints from Yemenis fleeing the hell of war and that were registered with UNHCR offices in Egypt, India, Ethiopia, Djibouti and others, whose resettlement was ignored by the organization, unlike other nationalities. Yemenis complain in many countries that UNHCR ignored their appeal and their situation which got worse. In India, for example, Yemeni refugees suffer from the Indian authorities' failure to recognize the asylum registration document, which deprives them of many of their basic rights such as educating their children in government schools or getting a job opportunity to support their families.
"SAM" confirmed that the Yemeni refugees were forced to face many dangerous challenges that threatened their lives as they took paths that are least described as suicidal during their search for a new safe homeland, whether through the Niger desert and from there to Morocco and Algeria, or through Belarus and Poland, or Iran, Turkey, the Balkans, or even South America and Mexico. SAM indicated that all these paths were dangerous and threatened the lives of hundreds of Yemenis as many of them were victims of human traffickers whereas dozens starved to death in the forests or drowned while trying to cross to Europe by sea boats or swimming.
The organization emphasized that the testimonies it documented revealed that some Yemenis had taken more than four years to settle, and others had traveled across more than five to six countries. Moreover, some of them had witnessed the death or drowning of their friends in the search for safety. On the other hand, others were not tired of waiting on the beaches for years for the moment of crossing and salvation. The testimonies collected by SAM unanimously agreed that it is impossible to return to Yemen because of the dangers that await them.
Asylum was not optional, but rather compulsory to escape the security risks facing Yemenis, taking into account that all peace efforts are unable to stop or limit them, as many asylum seekers face security challenges and risks affecting the right to life and physical integrity, including arbitrary detention and torture.
The organization indicated that it is preparing a new comprehensive report on the situation of Yemenis abroad, noting that the figures documented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees showed an increase in the number of Yemeni refugees. For example, Jordan hosts about 13,727 Yemeni asylum seekers. On the other hand, Germany has documented the rejection of (3591) asylum requests from 2017 to 2021 while 94 Yemenis were granted political asylum, and 2,337 others are under temporary protection, in addition to other numbers that made the organization decide to shed light on the refugee situation.
SAM stressed that international law has guaranteed, through its covenants, a wide range of rights to migrants and asylum seekers, obligating countries to ensure and contain the migrant and asylum seeker at a minimum since they are human beings in the first place. Some of these conventions are: the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, followed by The 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, the 1979 International Convention on Search and Rescue at Sea, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.
The organization concluded its statement by calling on the countries where Yemenis have settled to facilitate the procedures for integrating them into those societies, enabling them to work, enrolling their children in government schools, facilitating their access to residency and settling their legal status.
The organization also demands that the international community take a real action and play a more effective role in order to end the conflict in Yemen and ensure the formation of a democratic government that contributes to helping stabilize the situation in the country in preparation for the return of Yemenis to their country.