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Yemen: video link brings Guantanamo detainees and families closer together

28-12-2010 News Release 10/234

Sana'a/Geneva (ICRC) – For the first time, families in Yemen and their relatives detained at the US facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been able to communicate via video-teleconference, using a new service made available by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The first video-teleconference calls were made some 10 days ago at the ICRC delegation in Sana'a. The latest round of calls, which took place in Aden, in the south of the country, has just been completed.

"This is the first opportunity families in Yemen and their detained relatives in Guantanamo Bay have had to use video-teleconferencing," explained Nourane Houas of the ICRC's Sana'a delegation. "So far, four families have done so."

The video calls, which can last up to one hour, give the detainees and their families the opportunity not only to speak but also to see each other, in some cases for the first time in almost a decade. "Nothing – not even live video – can replace a face-to-face visit, but a video call is considerably more satisfying than a phone call or written message," added Ms Houas.

A total of 90 Yemeni nationals are currently detained in Guantanamo Bay. Many have until now kept in touch with their families in Yemen through Red Cross messages (brief family messages forwarded by the ICRC) and telephone calls.

The ICRC has been working in Yemen since 1962. In cooperation with the Yemen Red Crescent Society, it endeavours to meet the most urgent needs of victims of armed violence in the country, to provide humanitarian assistance on an impartial basis and to visit people deprived of their freedom.

For further information, please contact:
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Sana'a, tel: +967 1 213 844 or +967 711 94 43 43
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 25 90 or +41 79 251 93 18