Yemen Annual Report 1995

Situation Report
Originally published
During the year the ICRC stepped up its activities for the civilian population and for detainees in the central prisons and in places of detention under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Investigation Department and the Political Security Ad ministration. It also focused on dissemination activities for the armed forces, t he Yemeni Red Crescent Society and the general public. In September it launched a project to help mentally ill detainees in Sana'a central prison. Many of the del egation's activities, notably this project, assistance in prisons, and a landmine s awareness campaign, were carried out in cooperation with the National Society.

When an armed confrontation broke out in mid-December between Yemen and Eritre a over the Hanish islands, the ICRC appealed for respect for the relevant provisi ons of international humanitarian law and offered its services to the two countri es. It was accepted as a neutral intermediary by both parties, and was able to re gister and, on 30 December, repatriate 196 Yemeni POWs taken by the Eritrean arme d forces and 17 Yemeni civilians. [1]

- registered and repatriated 196 Yemeni POWs and 17 Yemeni civilians, followin g an armed confrontation between Yemen and Eritrea over the Hanish islands;
- carried out 58 visits to 37 places of detention and saw about 7,700 detainees;
- handled some 4,000 Red Cross messages essentially between Somali refugees living in Yemen and their families abroad;
- carried out a landmines awareness campaign, reaching 66,500 schoolchildren in southern Yemen.

[Note : 1. See also Eritrea p. 81.]

Activities for the civilian population

Following a number of accidents involving landmines and other unexploded munit ions in the south of the country, the ICRC and the Yemeni Red Crescent Society or ganized a preventive campaign in 70 primary and secondary schools in the governor ates of Aden, Abyan and Lahej. A straightforward and easily understandable messag e on the dangers of such devices was developed and passed on by 75 volunteers fro m the National Society to about 66,500 schoolchildren. Yemeni television lent its

support by broadcasting films and interviews about mines, especially in the run- up to the Review Conference of the 1980 UN Weapons Convention held in Vienna in September.

The ICRC carried out tracing work for Somali refugees living in Yemen. It proc essed tracing requests and arranged for the refugees to exchange Red Cross messag es with their relatives. The search for family members in Somalia and Kenya was c arried out in cooperation with the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Activities for detainees

In 1995 the ICRC made repeated visits to central prisons and to places of dete ntion under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Investigation Department and the Pol itical Security Administration. In March, for the first time, delegates were gran ted access to people held by the Department of Military Justice. In all, more tha n 7,000 detainees were visited in 37 places of detention. During the year, three summary reports on conditions of detention were handed over to the appropriate au thorities. In the course of their visits, and with the National Society's help, d elegates delivered a substantial amount of material assistance to detainees, as w ell as medicines to treat the most common medical complaints encountered amongst the detainee population, dressings and injection sets.

At the end of September the ICRC completed major sanitation work on the countr y's three largest prisons, in Sana'a, Taiz and Hodeida, and more modest projects in three other central prisons. The programme, coordinated by an expatriate water

and sanitation engineer, aimed to upgrade water supply facilities and waste wate r disposal systems. More than 70 percent of detainees in Yemen's prisons were est imated to have benefited from the improvements.<BR>

<P>In September the ICRC launched a project, developed in partnership with the Ye meni authorities and the Red Crescent Society, to assist mentally ill detainees i n the psychiatric section of Sana'a central prison. Once the section's premises and courtyard -- in particular, the sanitation facilities -- had been renovated an d fitted out, a psychiatrist and chief nurse, both recruited by the ICRC in Yemen , and 30 Red Crescent volunteers, trained in mental health care during a two-week

ICRC course in August, began providing care to around 100 mentally ill detainees . The project was supervised by an ICRC psychiatrist based in Geneva, who paid re gular visits to Yemen.

Medical activities

In addition to the water and sanitation and psychiatric projects mentioned abo ve, delegates provided medical assistance early in the year to six Yemeni Red Cre scent clinics, three government hospitals and homes for the elderly and handicapp ed children.


The delegation organized two introductory sessions on humanitarian law and an instructors' training session for about sixty officers and senior officers of the

Yemeni army. It also arranged a workshop on the Movement and dissemination techn iques for 15 members of the Yemeni Red Crescent, and gave financial assistance to the National Society towards some of its publications.