SANA’A: Local and human rights sources in Yemen revealed that a number of Somali citizens are currently facing illegal arrest and continuous torture in Yemen’s northern territories at the hands of armed gangs near the Saudi Arabia border as they’re allegedly trying to sneak into the oil giant.
Fleeing their war-torn country, Somalis are paying smugglers hundreds of dollars to be then helped into Saudi Arabia, often dealing with unsavory individuals and professional criminals.
Sources said those refugees usually travel from the eastern shores of Somalia to western Yemeni seaports situated near the Saudi borders, such as Khoaiea, Lihia or Midi.
Upon arrival the refugees are transferred to makeshift jails where they are being tortured or blackmailed for more money. Since many of them already have relatives waiting for them in Saudi Arabia, the smugglers are counting on the detainees’ loved ones to pay the ransom money in exchange for their release.
Sources told Bikyamasr.com that despite many complains to the government, the authorities had done nothing thus far to curb the trend, allowing those inhuman practices to take place. Local rights groups are now hoping that a mediatization of the problem will force local leaders to step up.
Some residents said that they could hear the detainees’ cries at night as they were being tortured by the armed gangs, stressing that they could do nothing as they themselves lived in fear of reprisals.
Moreover, a local resident revealed that when the authorities tried last month to have one of the jails closed down they were confronted by the armed militants and fired upon.
Some humanitarians accused powerful Sheiks in A’bs, Al Zahra, Al Lihia and Bani Hassan to be allowing such practices to carry on since they were doing nothing to confront the culprits, despite them being on their territories and hence under their control.
Sheikh Hashim Muhammad Najeeb Shami was accused by locals of keeping Somalis in one of his private jails, saying he was mistreating the detainees and subjecting them to torture.