Human Rights

Mothers of Abductees warns of suspected COVID-19 outbreak in Sana’a Central Prison

The Mothers of Abductees Association announced on Saturday it has received information about a suspected outbreak of COVID-19 among prisoners and detainees in the Central Prison in Sana’a, and said Houthi authorities are failing to provide medicine and painkillers to treat them.

“The cases are in quarantine inside the prison, and the Houthis did not allow the supply of medicine, painkillers, nor allow food or any money to be brought to them, which increases the risk and increases the suffering,” the association said in a statement on its Facebook page. 

The Mothers of Abductees Association is an independent advocacy body that includes women and the relatives of prisoners and detainees from across Yemen. 

In its announcement, the association said that prison officials in both the north of Yemen and in the south have flouted their responsibilities in minimizing the spread of the epidemic among abducted Yemenis.

The association also mentioned the conditions facing prisoners and detainees in Bir Ahmed prison in Aden, where a relative of a detained individual was quoted as saying “they face a slow death inside their cell as the prison administration continues to cut off electricity and reduce the amount of meals for detainees, in addition to the spread of diseases among the abductees.” 

Detainees in Bir Ahmed are planning to start a hunger strike to protest the ill-treatment, according to the statement. About 44 abductees are being held in Bir Ahmed prison, the Association said. The prison is run by the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC), who are refusing to release the abductees despite judicial orders to release some of the individuals.

For more than a year, the two parties to the conflict have been trading accusations over the obstruction of ongoing negotiations for a large-scale prisoner and detainee exchange deal. In mid-February, the Yemeni government and the Houthis announced an agreement brokered in Amman by the UN to release about 1,420 detainees and prisoners from both sides.

The Amman Agreement is the first stage of the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement for the exchange of all prisoners and detainees. In May, the Yemeni government announced its approval of the UN proposal for a comprehensive ceasefire, a unified effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and measures related to the implementation of the prisoner and detainees exchange agreement.

The government called on the UN Special Envoy for Yemen to publicly state the Houthis are obstructing peace efforts, but Envoy Martin Griffiths has not commented on the reason for the delayed implementation of the agreement. 

As the COVID-19 epidemic has spread to governorates across Yemen in recent months, local and international human rights organizations have stepped up their campaigning for the release of all prisoners and detainees, including prisoners of war and political prisoners, in order to protect them against the deadly virus.



Edited by Alkhatab Alrawhani



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