UAE denies sex abuse allegations

The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the EU has strongly refuted allegations that sexual torture is rampant in “UAE-controlled” prisons in war-torn Yemen.
Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

22 Jun 2018

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels on Friday, Mohamed Issa Abushahab said the allegations, reported this week by Associated Press, were “totally groundless.”

According to AP, hundreds of detainees have been sexually abused at a jail in Yemen believed to be run by the UAE.

But the ambassador flatly denied that the UAE operated any detention centres or jails in Yemen and also rejected the sex abuse allegations, saying, “These centres and jails are in complete control of local judicial systems and nothing to do with the UAE.”

As the crisis in Yemen continues to worsen the diplomat was in Brussels with a delegation from Yemen and Saudi Arabia to raise awareness of their current concerns and also to press the EU to help broker a peaceful resolution to the conflict that has been running now since 2015. 

The delegation, which has met with senior EU officials and MEPs, comprises representatives from the countries’ foreign ministries.

The European Union earlier this year pledged €107.5m in new funding to help civilians most in need across the country, bringing total EU funding to Yemen to €438.2m since the beginning of the crisis in 2015. 

European humanitarian aid and crisis management Commissioner Christos Stylianides said, “The EU is committed to assist those affected by the conflict in Yemen. To save lives on the ground, all parties to the conflict must ensure safe, unhindered and continuous humanitarian access to all affected communities in Yemen. Facilitating commercial imports through all ports of Yemen is essential.

“A political solution is a matter of urgency to bring an end to this conflict which has caused millions to suffer.”

Abushahab said, however, that rebel forces in the country, against whom the Yemeni government is waging a bitter war, had “misused” the aid from the EU and elsewhere “for their own purposes.”

He told reporters, “The aim of the aid, of course, is to improve the humanitarian situation but it is being abused by the rebels who ensure that it does not get to the people it is intended to reach.”

He pointed to current efforts to broker a peace deal, including ‘Operation restore hope’, backed by the Yemeni government which, he said, was to boost prospects for a political solution. 

Another speaker, Col Turki Saleh Al-Malki, spokesperson of the Saudi and US-backed coalition whose aim is to restore the Yemeni government to power, said, “This aid from the EU and the rest of the international community is not reaching the right people as it should and that is because of the Houthis who refuse to engage in the political process and come to the negotiating table.”

The war in Yemen began when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels took over much of the north of the country, including the capital, and forced out the government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

This is opposed by the Saudi-led coalition, backed by the US.

It is estimated that some 450,000 foreign workers have been evacuated from Yemen to countries like Pakistan, Egypt and India since the war started.

 

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