Saudi Arabia accused of forcing Yemenis in the kingdom out of their jobs

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Ahmed Yosri/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Ahmed Yosri/Reuters

Saudi Arabia is imposing a collective dual punishment on the Yemeni people by driving them out of jobs in the kingdom while continuing to impose an oil and aid blockade on Yemen, it was claimed at the UN security council.

The criticism of Riyadh came as evidence mounted that the Houthis are making progress in their months’-long efforts to capture the strategic city of Marib, the last government stronghold in northern Yemen and a major source of energy for the region. The Yemen government has warned of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe after rebels blockaded Al-Abdiyah district in Marib.

The allegations against the Saudis were made by a speaker from the Sana’a Centre thinktank selected by the UN to speak to the security council at its monthly update on the six-year civil war in Yemen. Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen said: “Yemen is not only the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, it is also the worst international response to any humanitarian crisis in the world”.

She said the “Saudis had decided to dismiss Yemini workers in the south of the kingdom without a clear or convincing explanation for this collective targeting”. It has been suggested hundreds of thousands are under threat of deportation.

She pointed out that, due to the war, expatriates had become almost the only source of hard currency because of the total absence of oil exports.

She said more than 1 million Yemenis worked in Saudi Arabia but she said “the harassment of those remaining was having a negative impact on millions of Yemenis at home and so exacerbating the current humanitarian crisis within Yemen. All Gulf states have been directly or indirectly involved in the war in Yemen and they therefore have a double moral and political responsibility towards their neighbour.”

She appealed to the Gulf states to keep their doors open to Yemen, adding that the security council should put pressure on the Saudis immediately to stop expanding and tightening the grip on Yemen workers in the Saudi labour market. She said they should be excluded from the policies of Saudi-isation and double residency fines, a penalty imposed on non-Saudis living in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia has been trying to deal with a surplus of foreign workers made worse by Covid reducing economic activity. The kingdom also wants to improve job prospects of young Saudis.

In June Yemeni doctors working in Saudi reported receiving letters saying their contracts were not being renewed. Regulations were introduced telling private sector employers in a group of southern provinces that only 25% of their workforce could come from Yemen.

Related: Yemen at war: conflict, chaos and rare joy – in pictures

The World Bank estimated in 2017 that remittances sent from Yemenis in Saudi Arabia amounted to $2.3bn annually. Remittances sent from Saudi Arabia constituted 61% of the total remittances sent from abroad.

Calling on all sides, including the Houthis, to remove the impediments to distributing aid she also pointed out that only 55% of the pledges made at the Yemen humanitarian summit had been fulfilled.

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