U.K. Advice Warns Refugee Returns to Yemen Would Breach Human Rights
Internal assessments by the U.K. Home Office issued on April 13 claim that “indiscriminate acts of violence” in Yemen would lead to a “breach of the European Convention on Human Rights” if asylum seekers from the country were sent back, according to reports in the Guardian.
These claims counter a Foreign Office internal statement, issued the same day, that Saudi Arabia is acting within international law in its actions in Yemen as leader of a military coalition fighting in the civil war there. The memo added that there was no need for Britain to suspend weapons exports to Saudi Arabia.
The civil war in Yemen ignited in 2015 when Houthi controlling the capital, Sana’a, clashed with government forces that are based in Aden. A Saudi-led coalition, supported by the U.S., launched airstrikes and military operations to restore the former government, which is allied with them.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi forces used cluster bombs, banned in most countries due to the indiscriminate nature of damage and loss of lives that they cause.
The Home Office said “There are reports of the use of indiscriminate acts of violence by both sides including the use of cluster bombs and attacks on civilians, homes, schools, factories, markets and reports of civilians fleeing airstrikes and being chased and shot at by helicopters,” according to the Guardian.
“Nearly 6,000 people have been killed since the Saudi coalition entered the conflict, with almost half of those being killed civilians,” the memorandum added.
At least 51,000 Yemenis have fled to Oman since the conflict started, while nearly 40,000 are in Saudi Arabia despite the country’s involvement in the conflict. Djibouti is the third most popular destination, with nearly 35,000 refugees from Yemen.
Compared to Syrians, civilians in Yemen are much more restricted in their efforts to flee the country due to border controls and financial limitations.
Thousands of IDPs Flee to Turkish Border Following New ISIS Attack
At least 5,000 internally displaced Syrians in northern Syria fled to the Turkish border after the Islamic State group opened fire, killing at least three people and uprooting entire communities.
The new spate of attacks took place when ISIS pushed back Syrian opposition forces that had come close to Dabiq, a village of high symbolic and strategic value to the extremist group.
Renewed fighting between ISIS and armed opposition groups in northern Aleppo has displaced at least 30,000 people in the past 48 hours, said Human Rights Watch.
Some of the uprooted internally displace people (IDPs) tried to cross the Turkish border near the town of Azaz, but were shot at by Turkish troops, according to a report by the Guardian. Up to 10 camps for IDPs were abandoned en masse, the report added.
Azaz is already home to up to 30,000 refugees from earlier in the year, and Turkish officials have insisted they will continue to refuse permission to cross to all but urgent medical cases and essential family visits.
Turkey Seeks Readmission Agreements With Several Countries as Part of E.U. Deal
The Turkish parliament has finally approved a long-delayed readmission agreement with Pakistan. This will allow Turkey to send back migrants from Pakistan as new arrivals continue to enter the country under the E.U.–Turkey deal.
Turkey is faced with the daunting task of repatriating non-Syrians to their home countries.
To expedite the process, Ankara is hoping to finalize readmission agreements with several origin countries.
On April 6, a Turkish government official announced that the Turkish parliament will soon introduce similar bilateral agreements with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Eritrea, Algeria, Tunisia, Somalia, Myanmar, Congo, Cameroon, Sudan and Ghana, according to the Huffington Post.
But human rights groups are concerned that nationals of many of these countries have even clearer refugee claims and protection needs than Pakistanis and that a blanket agreement will violate the individual rights of asylum seekers.
Around 30 Afghans were returned to Afghanistan in late 2015, after which Amnesty International denounced Turkey’s designation as a “safe country” for asylum-seekers a “sham.”
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- The New York Times: After Europe and Turkey Strike a Deal, Fears Grow That Migrants Will Turn to Italy
Top image: A boy walks behind a banner in a makeshift refugee camp at the northern Greek border point of Idomeni, Greece. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)