(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/12/2020) – Today the Bring Them Home Coalition sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing deep concern that the United States has not taken all feasible steps necessary to ensure the repatriation of more than 2,000 Americans stranded in Yemen due to the outbreak of COVID-19, including more than 100 persons carrying travel documents that have expired.
READ THE LETTER: https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/BringThemHome.pdf
The Bring Them Home Coalition also offered the Department of State several recommendations to guarantee the safe return of these stranded Americans.
Click Here to Read the Bring Them Home Coalition Letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
The Bring Them Home Coalition is made up of Yemeni-American, Arab-American, American Muslim, and civil liberties organizations, and includes the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus (ALC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), CAIR California, CAIR-Chicago, CAIR-New York, CAIR Michigan, Yemeni American Association of California, Yemeni Alliance Committee, Yemeni American Merchants Association.
On March 14, 2020, the government of Yemen suspended a majority of international flights as part of its effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s borders to Yemen have remained closed since April.
While there is some hope that outgoing flights from Sana’a’s international airport will resume beginning August 1, these flights are still subject to cancellation due to new COVID-19 outbreaks or regional tensions.
Having been stranded in Yemen for nearly five months, it has been reported to Bring Them Home Coalition member organizations that more than 100 Americans and LPRs carry travel documents including passports and green cards that have expired.
Without valid U.S. travel documentation, these Americans are unable to board flights leaving Yemen if and when they resume.
The State Department is advising Americans with expired U.S. travel documents that possess a Yemeni passport or secondary travel document to simply wait until borders reopen where they can then go to a U.S. Embassy to renew their passports. However, not all U.S. citizens with expired U.S. travel documents are dual citizens of other nations.
There are also reports that several Americans while traveling abroad in Yemen have given birth and are unable to easily procure travel documents for their newborn children.
The letter notes many of these Americans report having exhausted their personal financial resources and unable to afford flights home – which can cost well over $1,800 per ticket – after having been stranded in Yemen for such a prolonged period of time.
To address these concerns, the Bring Them Home Coalition is requesting the U.S. State Department implement the two following repatriation policies:
- Adopt the innovative and expedited process of handling consular requests in Yemen though secured online video conferencing that can be verified secondarily through electric correspondence, cross-checking of U.S. government databases, and in-person validation by U.S. consular staff once an American traveler arrives at a point of transfer in a country where the U.S. maintains an active embassy or consulate.
- Immediately provide financial assistance to those individuals in the form of an evacuation promissory note that can be paid back in full overtime.
The coalition notes that the State Department’s own “Coronavirus Repatriation Statistics” fails to mention Yemen as one of the 136 countries and territories it has repatriated Americans from.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: CAIR Government Affairs Department Director Robert S. McCaw, 202-742-6448, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Civil Rights Chapter Support Specialist Megan Fair, 202-742-6434, email@example.com