Statement on Oromos tragically burnt to death in Yemen

Minneapolis, Minnesota (March 14, 2021).

On Sunday, March 7, 2021, hundreds of Oromos were burnt to death in the Yemeni city of Sana’a.  The Oromo people affected by this tragedy are part of the thousands of Oromo refugees that left their homeland Oromia, Ethiopia because of their Oromo identity that have rendered them a target for mass arrests, mistreatments, extrajudicial killings, and abuse of power by the successive Ethiopian governments.

Although there are varying accounts of the incident that burnt down the building in which these and many others were stationed, the living condition and overcrowding has made the already bad situation worse.  These dominantly youth refugees crossed multiple boundaries, made it across the Red Sea under very risky situations and negotiated desert lands on foot for several weeks to get to Yemen as they run away from the brutal regime in Ethiopia.  They were hoping to get to a safe place where they can have basic human life and protection.  Unfortunately, the war in the host country didn’t make their lives any better and hundreds (by some estimates up to 450) were burnt down to death.  Based on some accounts from survivors, the migrant detention center was put on fire after the refugees rejected to join the fighting army nor pay ransom when asked by the Houthi forces.  Many more are still in dire situation caught between the warring factions and have lost whatever belongings they had during this incident.

Like the millions of Oromo people who heard the news, we at HIRPHA International, a humanitarian non-profit organization, are shocked and heartbroken by this tragedy.  We would like to express our condolences to the families and relatives directly or indirectly impacted by this sad incident.

HIRPA International want to call up on all Oromo Diaspora and humanitarian organizations to support the Oromo people who are still in Yemen and help them to get through this traumatic and very difficult time.

We call up on the relevant international organizations (UNHCR, IOM) to protect the Oromo refugees in Yemen through proper recognition following international rules and protection, and facilitate a third country resettlement.

We also call up on the international community to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to protect basic human rights and the rule of law to avoid mass migration of Oromos and other nationalities from their homeland.

HIRPHA International