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HRW asks Saudi Arabia: End summary deportation of Somalis, Yemenis
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HRW asks Saudi Arabia: End summary deportation of Somalis, Yemenis

More than 12,000 Somalis have been deported since 1 January 2014 from Saudi Arabia back to conflict-ridden Somalia, according to Human Rights Watch. In the absence of any protection screening and referral mechanism prior to departure, Saudi Arabia risks violating international obligations to not forcefully return anyone to a place where their life or freedom is threatened or where they face other serious harm. ICVA is also concerned about the negative precedent the summary deportations are setting for the voluntariness, safety and dignity aspects of future repatriation processes of Somali refugees from neighboring countries and the respect for the fundamental principle of non-refoulement. The large-scale return of Somalis is clearly premature at this time given the current conditions on the ground in Somalia. Saudi Arabia’s approach should be informed by the International Protection Considerations with regard to people fleeing Southern and Central Somalia recently published by UNHCR.
Moreover, in recent days and weeks, 300,000 Yemeni nationals have also been deported from Saudi Arabia. This decision has aggravated the already tenuous humanitarian situation, reduced financial assets such as remittances, and deepened unemployment. According to an operational NGO, many of those who have been deported claim that they have legitimate documentation allowing them to stay in Saudi Arabia. However, they were rounded up on the streets and kept in detention with no opportunity to prove the regularity of their status. Therefore, it is paramount that the Saudi Arabian government observes due process and allows those with regularised status to prove that they have the right to stay in Saudi Arabia. ICVA is concerned that the continued deportation of migrants back to Yemen, a country already struggling with massive humanitarian needs, could destabilise the highly fragile political situation in the country. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than half of Yemen’s population (up to 14.7 million people) is in need of humanitarian assistance and 4.5 million are severely food insecure.

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