The Salloum land crossing between Egypt and Libya (Masrawy)

The Reasons Behind Complicating Yemenis Travel to their Primary External Destination


Wed, 05-04-2023 05:34 PM, Aden

"The Yemeni people should not be punished because of the stance adopted by the current Yemeni Foreign Minister"

Abdullah Al-Shadli (South24) 

On April 2nd, Egypt deported dozens of Yemeni coming from Aden International Airport to Cairo International Airport. They were detained after not meeting the new conditions set by Cairo to allow Yemenis to enter the country. 

Flight No. 601 of Yemen Airways was the first one which collided with Egyptian procedures. This has stirred the Yemenis' concerns about complicating their travel to their first external destination where they receive medical care and enjoy stability away from the brunt of the Yemeni war.

Before this air flight, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior approved some measures, seen by “South24 Center” for granting travel visas to Yemenis. This comes years after facilities provided by Cairo to the Yemenis in light of the war and the crisis that has stroked their country. 

The memorandum obligated Yemenis coming directly to Egypt for treatment to obtain documented medical reports. It was also stipulated that all Yemeni nationals between the ages of 16-50 arriving in Egypt accompanied by exempted parents over 50 should obtain prior entry visas to the country.

The memorandum obligates all Yemenis between the ages of 16 and 50 to obtain entry visas in advance, with security approval, for Yemeni nationals residing in the European Union, the United States, and the GCC countries.

Bin Mubarak statements

These measures came after the visit made by Yemeni Foreign Minister, Ahmed bin Mubarak, to Ethiopia on March 19th where he gave statements that have been linked, by observers who spoke to “South24 Center”, to the latest complications regarding the Yemenis’ travel to Egypt. 

During a meeting with his Ethiopian counterpart, Bin Mubarak affirmed "the solidarity of the Republic of Yemen and its support for all the steps taken by the Ethiopian government to move the wheel of development..." according to the official Yemeni Ministry of Foreign Affairs website amid the crisis of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with both Egypt and Sudan. 

In response to these accusations, the Yemeni minister claimed that there is a campaign against him due to the efforts of the Foreign Ministry to reduce the number of diplomatic missions and attachés in embassies abroad. 

Bin Mubarak tweeted: “Over the past two days, I watched an organized media campaign that targeted us personally... We reject using personal targeting to offend our strong and historical relationship with Egypt”. 

In an interview with the Egyptian newspaper “El-Aosboa”, Bin Mubarak said that his visit to Ethiopia Was coordinated with Egypt. He added: “I didn’t give any statements related to Egypt’s national security. I refused to hold any press conference to avoid misunderstanding any statements”.

Officially, Egyptian authorities have not so far commented on the reasons for the latest procedures. However, Egyptian MB Mostafa Bakry quoted Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry as saying that he attributed the measures to "organizational reasons".

Shoukry told “El-Aosboa” that “the latest decisions are not related to a certain political stance but they are regulatory measures because some exploit that for permanent residency which has repercussions on the Egyptian government and an economic burden on Egypt”.

“The Yemenis are brotherly people. So, we are looking for a solution that complies with security considerations and allows the Yemeni brothers to enjoy what they are used to from Egypt," he added.

According to Bakry, Minister Shoukry announced that he will meet with his Yemeni counterpart on Thursday to discuss these matters.

Previously, Bakry tweeted: “The Yemeni people should not be punished because of the stance adopted by the current Yemeni Foreign Minister. President El-Sisi opened Egypt’s doors for all brothers without discrimination and gave them several facilities”.

He continued by saying: “Egypt is bigger than any behavior made by an official. We hope that President El-Sisi will intervene to end this crisis whose cost is being paid by the Yemeni people and not the Foreign Minister”. 

In a TV interview, Bakry said: “Egypt is sensitive towards any positions supporting the Ethiopian side.... The Yemeni Foreign Minister’s visit put everyone in real trouble. We hope that the Yemenis’ situation in Egypt will return to normal”. 

The Egyptian-based human right researcher and academic Heba Al-Aidrous told “South24 Center”: “Bin Mubarak’s visit to Ethiopia was not important. It had nothing to do with the interests of Yemenis and we shouldn't risk in any way our strong historical relations with Egypt”.

“However, I can’t confirm that these decisions were a reaction against this visit in particular. According to statements by the Egyptian authorities, these procedures apply to all nationalities. This is an official confirmation that Yemenis residing in Egypt are not directly targeted for any reason," she said.

Likewise, Yemeni political analyst Abdulsattar Al-Shamiri, who resides in Egypt, criticized the visit. He told “South24 Center”: “This visit has been a plague which is added to the plague of corruption in the Foreign Ministry and its appointments”.

He elaborated: “This visit has no aim except for provoking Egypt which is in the face of water confrontation. It denotes the big political foolishness of this man (the Foreign Minister) who is not the right one to hold this position”. 

Yemenis only?

In a statement, the Yemeni Embassy in Egypt said that “the news of measures taken by the Egyptian authorities regarding organizing the residency is related to all nationalities residing in the country”. Saba New Agency quoted a similar statement by the Egyptian ambassador. 

However, no official Egyptian statements have been issued so far to confirm the Yemeni allegations. Moreover, “South24 Center” didn’t find on any Egyptian official platforms any mention of measures including other nationalities. 

Egypt Embassy in Yemen tweeted about a meeting that brought together the Egyptian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Farouq, and the Chairman of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad Al-Alimi in Riyadh.
The Embassy said: “The meeting was an opportunity to underscore the strong relationship between the two brothers and our ongoing Egyptian support and welcoming all Yemenis in their country Egypt”.

Al-Alimi hailed Egypt’s stance towards the Yemenis as it has received "hundreds of thousands of Yemenis who are looking for a safe haven for education, treatment or investment”.

Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar Al-Eryani published a series of tweets that enhanced bin Mubarak’s link with the latest measures. He said: “Yemen only backs its Egyptian brothers who have supported it in different stages and circumstances”. 

He added: “We bet on [..] the continuation of the generous care and facilities provided by Egypt to Yemeni residents and expatriates until the end of the exceptional circumstances that our country and people are going through."

During a meeting in Aden, the Yemeni Cabinet said that there are ongoing communications with Egypt at all levels regarding the new measures for the entry of Yemenis. It pointed to the historical relationships between the two countries and the sacrifices made by Egyptian soldiers in the 1960s. 

Solving the crisis 

STC’s Vice President Hani Bin Brik as well as Southern and Northern activists called for the dismissal of Ahmed Bin Mubarak to end the crisis.

Al-Shamiri believes that PLC should dismiss the Foreign Minister quickly and replace him with a proper one who is capable of “healing the wounds”

He said: “I think that the wise Egyptian leadership may back off or exempt Yemenis, especially that we have a protocol with Egypt since the 1960s that gives Yemenis special privileges, as is the case with our Sudanese brothers”. 

The Importance of Egypt

Egypt is extremely important for Yemenis as it hosts the second biggest Yemeni community after Saudi Arabia. Cairo has given Yemenis facilities for travel, residency and medical treatment which they don’t often receive in other countries. Al-Shamiri described Egypt as being the “first home for Yemenis”. 

Abdullah Al-Shadli

Journalist and editor at South24 Center for News and Studies

YemenEgyptCairoAden AirportCairo AirportAhmed Bin MubarakSameh Shoukry