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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Aden - Waddah Aljaleel

Yemen's Houthis Use Food Aid to Lure African Refugees

African migrants sit in a deportation center in Aden, Yemen (Reuters)

Refugees in Yemen are willingly returning to their countries after Houthi militias used various practices against them and began using food aid to lure and kidnap them, according to informed sources in Sanaa.

Last month, the Houthis announced a project to distribute food baskets to African refugees. Their media reported that the "Supreme Council for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and International Cooperation" spread over a thousand food baskets for refugee families in Sanaa.

The Houthi coup officials claimed that distributing food baskets to African refugees is part of the charity programs during Ramadan month.

According to the sources, the militias said that refugee families who received these food baskets had to agree to enroll their children and youth in sectarian cultural courses and participate in events.

They indicated that these food baskets are a means for the Houthi militia to obtain data and information about the refugees regarding their numbers, residence addresses, sources of income, and economic activities.

The militia imposed various royalties on those who practiced any profession. Similar to what is happening with Yemeni sellers and shopkeepers.

The sources stated that the Houthi militia provided food baskets to African refugees at different times to lure them and uncover their data. The recipients are forced to offer complete statements about themselves.

The Houthi militia's claims of caring for African refugees and caring for their humanitarian conditions contradict the violence and repression they practice against them, accusing them of posing a danger to society and entering the country illegally.

During the past months, the militia admitted to chasing and kidnapping nearly a thousand refugees from Saada alone.

Houthi media reported that over 700 refugees were transferred from the UN-sponsored shelter center in Saada to the prisons in Sanaa in preparation for their deportation.

Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the voluntary return program had enabled more than 2,600 African migrants to return to their countries this year, 518 on dangerous journeys across the sea using primitive boats.

IOM indicated that the refugees took this step under the brink of the humanitarian crisis and deteriorating conditions in Yemen.

However, according to the organization, the number of immigrants arriving in Yemen in March saw an 87 percent increase from February, when it announced the arrival of 10,726 immigrants.

The Houthi militia has subjected African migrants to profound practices and violations over the past years, including killing, imprisonment, forced deportation, forced participation in sectarian activities, and recruitment to fight against government forces.

In the spring of 2022, the Houthi militia killed hundreds of refugees by burning them in one of its prisons in Sanaa, saying it was an accident.

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