Yemen: Access to detainees a humanitarian must

16 May 2017

Geneva/Sana'a (ICRC) – The suffering of thousands of families who have had no contact with relatives detained in relation to the conflict in Yemen must end, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday.

"We urgently call on all sides, including states supporting parties on the ground, to ensure unconditional and immediate access to people detained in relation with the conflict," said Dominik Stillhart, ICRC's global Director of Operations, who completed a five-day visit to Yemen on Tuesday.

"Hundreds of families have approached us on this issue. Some of them have been without news from their loved ones for years. Enforced disappearances and allegations of ill-treatment and deteriorating conditions further add to the plight of detainees and to families' anxiety," Mr. Stillhart added.

Such visits are a non-negotiable humanitarian imperative, Mr. Stillhart said. They also would be an important contribution to the building of mutual trust amongst Yemeni communities.

The ICRC last year visited more than 11,000 detainees in Yemen and 250 Yemeni detainees in Saudi Arabia. "However, many conflict-related detainees remain off-limits in many locations. This has to change in the best interest of all sides," Mr. Stillhart said.

The ICRC works around the world to ensure humane conditions of detention by regularly visiting places of detention, meeting with detainees to monitor their conditions and treatment, and by bringing about improvements. It discusses its findings confidentially with the authorities concerned.

For further information, please contact:

Soumaya Beltifa, ICRC Sanaa, tel: +967 736 071 967
Adnan Hizam, ICRC Sanaa, tel: +967 733721659
Ralph El Hage, ICRC Amman, tel: +962 77845 4382
Marie-Claire Feghali, ICRC Geneva, tél: +41 79 536 92 31

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