Houthi rebels parade in Sanaa on December 19, 2017. (Reuters)

March 10, 2021

Yemen’s legitimate government and human rights activists in Sanaa are accusing Houthis of killing dozens of Ethiopian migrants after the Iran-backed militants set a detention center ablaze in the capital on Sunday.

Houthis burned down the center after the migrants refused to join their ranks.

The number of victims who died in the fire remains unknown, but activist sources are saying the figure exceeded 180.

“The incident left hundreds of African migrants killed or injured,” Yemeni Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani confirmed in an official statement.

He exposed the Houthis for having the dead collectively buried in a new graveyard in an attempt to hide the crime.

“The incident came after the Houthis arrested African refugees from streets and markets and asked them to choose between indoctrination courses and then participation in fighting or imprisonment and repatriation, and after the refugees protested against maltreatment in jails that lack the lowest humanitarian criteria,” he explained.

Eryani said that the government was urging for an international, transparent, and independent probe into the fire.

The minister called for the release of all the detainees, in conformity with Yemen’s commitments in this regard, and for refugees be allowed free movement or voluntary return home.

Earlier on Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) called on the Houthis to allow humanitarian access to injured migrants.

When the fire started, there were some 900 migrants, most of them Ethiopians, in the crowded detention center, and the hangar area hosted more than 350 migrants, IOM said in a statement.

The group’s staff were offering emergency care to more than 170 injured people, of whom at least 90 were in serious condition.

Local activists circulated leaked footage showing the burning of dozens of immigrants inside the detention center, confirming that the militias were the only party responsible for the heinous crime.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.