Middle EastYemen

Thousands of mercenaries hired by UAE to carry out assassinations in southern Yemen: Rights groups

Two international civil society organizations for human rights say the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has hired thousands of mercenaries to carry out high-profile assassinations and targeted killings in the southern part of Yemen.

The International Institute for Rights and Development and the Rights Radar Foundation said in a statement, read during the 45th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in the Swiss city of Geneva, that they “are deeply concerned about the escalation of assassination cases in Yemen by the mercenaries.”

“The UAE hired American mercenaries to carry out high-profile assassinations in Yemen. They conducted several operations in Aden and several cities, resulting in the assassinations of dozens of politicians and public figures during the past five years of conflict in Yemen,” the statement read.

The rights groups highlighted that the Persian Gulf country has signed up 30,000 mercenaries from four Latin American states, of whom at least 450 mercenaries have been deployed to Yemen after having received training by US trainers.

“They take advantage of the UN’s disregard for their human rights abuses in Yemen to continue their crimes with no accountability,” the groups argued. 

“Over 80 percent of Yemeni politicians, lawmakers and media professionals have been displaced locally or globally, seeking safety as they become potential targets for assassination,” they pointed out.

The rights groups warned that “the right to life in Yemen is in extreme danger,” stressing that the situation “needs the UN to offer effective action not just kind words. Enough is enough.”

Aden and other Yemeni southern cities are controlled by Riyadh-allied and UAE-backed militant groups, which serve a Saudi-led coalition of aggressors waging war on Yemen since early 2015.

Abu Dhabi — alongside Riyadh — has repeatedly come under fire for running secret prison facilities in southern Yemen, which are rife with gross human rights violations, including torture and sexual abuse of the captives, as documented by prominent rights institutions.

Militants backed by the UAE have repeatedly faced accusations of kidnapping people and transferring them to the notorious Abu Dhabi-run jails in southern Yemen under the pretext of clearing out suspected al-Qaeda-linked elements.

Meanwhile, the UAE has set its sights on Yemen’s strategic island of Socotra, where it maintains a much-criticized military presence.

Earlier this month, French-language news outlet JForum said in a report that the Israeli regime, in conjunction with the UAE, plans to construct intelligence-gathering bases on the island of Socotra.

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