Yemenis stranded in Saudi Arabia report costly fees for coronavirus testing before returning to Yemen, despite arrangements to conduct the tests for free
Yemen embassy in Riyadh investigates COVID-19 bribery scheme at border crossing
The Yemeni embassy in Riyadh has launched an investigation into a bribery scheme at the Sharoura border crossing that links Saudi Arabia’s Sharoura city to Yemen’s Hadhramout governorate.
Hundreds of Yemeni citizens, who have been stranded in Sharoura city due to COVID-19 restrictions, report being charged costly fees for coronavirus tests before crossing into Yemen, despite arrangements with Sharoura General Hospital to conduct free tests for the stranded individuals, according to an embassy statement released Thursday evening.
As part of the investigation, the Yemeni embassy suspended its top official in Sharoura, Khaled Hizam, who allegedly directed private hospitals to charge the stranded Yemenis for COVID-19 testing.
As of Thursday morning, Hizam was directing the stranded Yemenis to private hospitals in Sharoura to conduct tests for amounts between 700 ($185) and 1,300 (nearly $350) Saudi riyals, according to the statement.
The Yemeni embassy, which declined to comment further on the investigation, pointed out that only those Yemenis who were already stuck in Sharoura are eligible for the free tests and re-entry into Yemen at this time. The government has arranged for the returnees to spend 14 days in a quarantine facility at the Al-Wadea port on the Yemeni side of the border.
Edited by Casey Coombs