The Eritrean "Assab" was known by the Yemenis as a destination for immigration. Panel of Expert report explains how the UAE turned it into a detention and torture centre!

The Eritrean "Assab" was known by the Yemenis as a destination for immigration. Panel of Expert report explains how the UAE turned it into a detention and torture centre!


As the Arabian Peninsula desert was not a magnet for those seeking opportunities for life, Yemenis, during the past centuries, when conditions narrowed, were looking to the sea, as a life and opportunity to them.

Across more than 1,500 kilometers of beaches, Yemenis make their way to the other bank in the Red Sea towards the Black Continent.

Yemenis have forgotten this station over the past decades after their faces turned north towards the oil resources, but it recently became a detention and abuse center to which Yemenis have been taken over the past years, as documented by the report of the eminent international expert group on Yemen, formed by the Human Rights Council United Nations.

In the southern Province of Danakalia in the southern Red Sea region, the UAE established an air base and training center in the Eritrean city of Assab at the launch of the Arab Coalition's military operations in Yemen in March 2015.

The Base was the starting point for coalition air operations against the Houthis, and was linked to training and recruitment operations initiated by the UAE to establish security and military formations loyal to it, which handed over its leadership to former leaders of the so-called separatist movements, and to Salafist leaders. Until recently, was affiliated with terrorist organizations, according to the group of international experts.

After the defeat of Houthi militias from Aden and the provinces of Lahj, Abyan and Al-Dhalea by July 2015, the military base had a secret facility as a "Detention and Torture Center", the report says that the center is located 12 km north of the city of Assab, about 2.5 km east of the air base.

"Eyewitnesses identified that the guards and the investigators in Assab were Emirati soldiers. They were a mix of Emiratis and non-Arabs with an unknown nationality or ethnicity, and they were wearing UAE uniforms," the report says.

The secret detention center in Assab was dedicated to anti-UAE fighters, who refused to work for the security belt, the latter is a security formation comprising several brigades and units that currently control the security and military scene in the four provinces of Aden province, and was the main force that led The Southern Transitional Council (STC) crossed it over the latest coup against the Yemeni government last month.

According to the report, there are certain cases of fighters disappearing in Assab, Eritrea.

The report indicates that members of the UAE army forced the fighters who refused to work for the security belt, "to work with them in assassinations", and targeted assassinations according to the report anti-UAE and the leadership of the southern movement opposed to the Transitional Council, and Al-Masdar online will dedicate a separate report about that .

According to the report, after forced and tortured fighters were forced to work with the security belt, they are transferred back to Yemen through the detention center at al-Buraiqa base or the "Bir Ahmed" detention center, the latter run by the pro-UAE security belt militias.

"In 2018, at least nine male detainees were seen in Assab, consisting of former resistance, members of the security belt, and Houthi fighters (former Houthi fighters attracted by the UAE to work for them)," the report said.

"Based on reliable witness evidence and satellite image analysis, at the time of the photograph, the facility appeared to contain at least 70 separate cells where prisoners were held," according to the report.

The report noted that the secret detention in Assab "presents a real danger  of ill-treatment, torture and other human rights violations."

The Group of Experts noted that it had received "credible reports of torture at this detention facility", but that its investigations had not been completed at the time of writing.


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