Yemen orders arrest of colonel who oversaw notorious detainee center

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ADEN: Yemen’s interior minister on Thursday ordered the “immediate arrest” of an Aden-based colonel, citing allegations of rape against African detainees that occurred under his watch.

Interior Minister Ahmed Al-Misri “directed the relevant security services to immediately arrest Col. Khalid Al-Alwani, the former director of the African refugee center, and refer him for investigation over human rights violations and cases of rape against African migrants,” a statement on the ministry’s website said.

Al-Alwani was suspended from his role overseeing the Buraika migrant detention center in mid-March but continued to serve as a police chief for the Mualla district in the southern port of Aden.

The ministry said it had already pledged to carry out a full investigation and take legal action against those found guilty of abuses “regardless of whether they are members of the ministry.”

Human Rights Watch published a report on Wednesday saying Yemeni government employees had “tortured, raped, and executed” migrants and asylum seekers at the Buraika migrant detention facility in Aden. Migrants held at the facility — in use since early 2017 — were denied refugee protection and often deported en masse into rough seas, the watchdog said.

The UN refugee agency published a parallel report corroborating the findings and calling for “unfettered access” to detainees.

Last year, more than 87,000 people arrived in Yemen from the Horn of Africa, according to the UNHCR.

Yemen’s government is based in Aden, having been driven out of Sanaa by Houthi rebels who overran the capital in 2014.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed in Yemen’s conflict, which has unleashed what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

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