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Hajj ban for Yemenis with Houthi-issued passports

Passports issued since January 2016 will be rejected for Hajj [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 May, 2017

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Yemeni civilians who had passports issued in Houthi-controlled cities since 1 January 2016 will be barred from this year's annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, authorities said.

Yemen's internationally-recognised government warned that passports issued by Houthi rebels in control of the capital were not approved for the Hajj season this year, local media reported on Wednesday.

"Passports issued by the provinces that are under the control of the Houthi militia and [former President Ali Abdullah] Saleh from the start of 2016 to this date, have not been approved for the next pilgrimage season," according to the Minister of Awqaf and Guidance Dr. Ahmed Attia.

The minister said the absence of information in the database stored at the immigration and passports authority were the reason for the decision.

"The issuance of passports during this period did not connect electronically to the authority after the rebels cut their ties to it," he added.

"Passports issued before this date are acceptable, as they are stored and linked directly to the passport authority, and all passports issued by the liberated areas under the jurisdiction of the legitimate state."

In 2015, the rebels gathered thousands of supporters to denounce a Saudi decision denying Yemenis permission to travel to Mecca to perform the Hajj pilgrimage.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the capital Sanaa, dressed in a white robe traditionally worn during the pilgrimage, to denounce what they said was an unfair decision affecting innocent Yemeni civilians.

Yemen's Houthis took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014 and captured much of the state institutes, setting up their own state and military apparatus to manage the country.

Last month, the rebel-controlled ministry of industry and commerce in the capital issued commodity cards allowing government employees to buy basic food items from two shops in Sanaa in an attempt to appease protesters after several months of unpaid salaries.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened to push back the Houthis in March 2015, however, the rebels maintain control of the capital and much of its state institutes despite losing ground in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the internationally recognised government of Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi remains in Aden, where it has established a temporary capital while the anti-Houthi offensive continues.

 

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