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UAE-backed forces accused of forced disappearances

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 09/06/2017
UAE-backed forces have been fighting since 2015 as part of the Arab coalition [Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera UAE-backed forces have been fighting since 2015 as part of the Arab coalition [Reuters]

UAE-backed forces fighting on behalf of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen have kidnapped hundreds of men, according to relatives and local human-rights activists.

An investigation published on Friday by The Daily Beast website and funded by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said that uniformed men belonging to a militia called the Elite Forces, which is controlled by the UAE, abducted men from their homes and brought them to a secret prison compound in southern Yemen where they were allegedy tortured.

Human rights activists compared the conditions in al-Riyyan airport, in southeastern Yemen, to that of notorious US-run prisons like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

UAE forces have been fighting in Yemen since 2015 alongside members of a US-backed, Saudi-led coalition battling Houthi fighters and al-Qaeda-affiliated armedf groups.

The investigation echo's a similar report put out by the United Nations earlier this year that warned of increasing instances of forced disappearances in UAE-controlled southeastern Yemen.

According to the UN, the UAE-backed Elite Forces were created to counter the rise of al-Qaeda fighters in the southeastern port city of Mukalla once the government regained control of the area in April 2016.

The city had previously been under hardliner control for nearly a year.

Efforts to take back the city were led by the UAE, which maintains a strong presence across the city.

Weeks of interviews with family members of the disappeared led the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to believe the mass kidnappings were part of a campaign by the Elite Forces against al-Qaeda suspects.

Activists told the Bureau that many of those abducted worked normal government or professional jobs while al-Qaeda was in control of the city, but had no connections to the group.

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