By NY Staff
The rate of poverty and unemployment increases daily among Yemeni youths. Many feel that immigration to Saudi is the best alternative to Yemen’s difficult living conditions and lack of job opportunities. It is a phenomenon currently taking place both among the uneducated laboring class as well as among educated people. In recent months, the number of people intending to immigrate to Saudi Arabia has increased remarkably. This is particularly notable given all the risks involved in such a decisions—risks both for those who would immigrate legally and those using illegal channels.
Report – Fahad Al-Arhabi
Hassan Abdullah is one of those who emigrated to Saudi and stayed there many years. Those years still were not enough for him to achieve all his ambitions, after he return back to Yemen his ambitions was totally collapsed.
Hassan is now 60 years old. He spent most of his life as an illegal Yemeni citizen in Saudi. In Saudi, Hassan had big dreams of opening his own small enterprises business. A modest goal for each one, but he wasn’t able to achieve even a fraction of hi ambitions.
Hassan wonders where the Taif Agreement between the two countries which grants the Yemeni citizens the right to work in KSA freely.
“You are Yemeni!” “You are Zaidi!” These are the type of phrases Yemenis may hear commonly from Saudi citizens in the work place or street while they are living in the Kingdom of Saudi. Hassan speaks as an educated person about all the events that happened in Yemen during his absence. His ability to narrate the details shows that he kept constant tabs on Yemen’s national issues during his time abroad.
Hassan returned from Saudi nine years ago. He came back with a lot of issues and a good deal of human suffering, which he had shared with his Yemeni compatriots in Saudi.
In Al Riyadh there is a prison called ” Shamasy Prison.” The prison is full of Yemeni citizens, whose only crime was emigrating to Saudi to find a job and start a new life. But it seems that Yemenis have less luck than people from other countries. Saudis look on Yemenis with contempt, and they receive little help from either the Kingdom or the organizations working in human rights.
Hassan said that, Shamasy prison contains tens of thousands of prisoners. It has 27 individual sections; each section contains more than 500 prisoners from different Arabic and foreign countries. The majority of those prisoners are Yemenis along with Yemeni women too. The prison was designed for illegal residents in Saudi.
The prison capacity exceeds limits with wide array of people. Women admitted to the jail are subjected to full check and un-proper searched in their bodies, taking photos and fingerprints for each one by the police. The accused party then turns from free person to prisoner, all because of a silly reason.
In Shamasy, food is offered without any grace or courtesy, and food is distributed using unclean and unsanitary utensils. Ten prisoners all share one dish containing little of rice and bloody-smelling chicken. Plenty of prisoners are still held of Shamasy prison up today, forced to live each day in its terrible conditions.
Al-Srihi is one of those trapped in Shamasy because records of his handprint disappeared from Najran Prison after a letter was sent from Shamasy in al Riyadh.
Al-Srihi is 22 years old. The Shamasy handprint mechanism could have taken his handprint, but the Najran Prison device could not recognize his fingerprint. Because he was unable to get a reading of his handprint, al-Srihi was not allowed to return to Yemen. For that matter, he was taken back to Al Riyadh prison where he still sits today. Whoever tries to visit al-Srihi falls into the hands of the prison officials.
Al Hamdani is another Yemeni who was thrown to that prison. He is a Yemeni resident who traveled to the prison to collect a sum of money that had been deposited at the facility by his detained friend. When he arrived at the prison, he was caught by policemen and thrown into the prison beside his friend. His residence documents were all formal and proper, and there was nothing to suggest that he had committed any legal violation or caused any security problem. The issue rather seems to be a sense of enmity against Yemenis by Saudis. Saudi has done nothing to show any moral standards in their treatment of Yemenis or their relationship with their southern neighbor.
Similarly, the Yemeni president and his government don’t care about what happens to Yemenis north of the border. They are so busy searching for the saboteurs of Yemen’s power lines and facilitating the work of foreign aircraft that enter Yemen airspace and shoot Yemeni people in cold blood. As Hassan said, Yemenis face unethical and inhumane situations daily. It would not be strange if Saudi expanded itself by taking hundreds of thousands of kilometers of Yemeni land, stepping all over Yemeni citizens and government in the process.
Moreover, the Kingdom is now deliberately building more formal special prisons to arrest thousands of Yemenis, whether legally or illegally.
Al-Qassim, Abha, and Najran prisons, as well as Alkhamis and prisons in Saudi’s eastern regions, are completely full of Yemeni prisoners who only entered the country to look for a living.
A Yemeni citizen must pay over 7000 SR to the Kingdom in order to join its labor market. Later, the situation develops to a basic search for value and profitable income by the people of the Kingdom. Most investment companies like the idea of begging in Kingdom territory, which costs them little but can earn a lot. Smuggling of children and women spread rapidly because of the high returns for this kind of work.
These companies bring women and children from Yemen into all parts of the Kingdom, facilitated by Yemeni and Saudi partners. The traffickers then distribute these illegal immigrants throughout Saudis markets and tourist areas to practice begging. In a common arrangement, the beggar will get to keep 70 SR per day, and the rest must be turned over to the company that brought them into the country.
Many times these “begging companies” release beggars from Saudi prisons at a cost of as much as fifty thousand SR, but these liberation are more common for women than men. Thousands of women exist in Saudi unlawfully.
We want to know, are Yemen’s government officials responsible for putting an end to this terrible practice? Or is it just media noise used by politicians to achieve their interests at the expense of Yemen’s abused expatriates?