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Houthis Systematically Target Expatriate-owned Properties

Houthis Systematically Target Expatriate-owned Properties

Saturday, 25 May, 2019 - 09:00
Yemeni carrying bread in central Sanaa (AFP)
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat
Yemeni activists have raised the alarm on Houthi militants, in areas under their control, unashamedly plundering assets of Yemeni expatriates who had left the country before the war.

Rights activists said the Iran-backed militias have recently been focused on looting the property of expatriates, sending armed mobsters to extort their relatives for money.

Gatekeepers and relatives are being asked to pay stupendous amounts of money in order to keep militants at bay and away from vandalizing, looting and destroying private properties.

While many expatriates have refrained from returning to their hometowns, which are now overrun by Houthi militants, they have voiced deep anxieties towards the safety of not only their property but also relatives.

“Once a Houthi officer figures out that the owner of any real estate is living abroad, they immediately move to extort relatives,” the legal representative of an expatriate residing in the United States, speaking under conditions of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

On Houthis coercing civilians at gunpoint, Yemeni expatriate in the US, Abu Saleh Al-Baadani said: “We suffer all kinds of extortion, theft and robbery, and we have to pay money for the Houthi war effort.”

“If my relatives were not guarding the villa I own in the city of Ibb, it would be in the hands of militias," Baadani noted.

“My relatives clashed with armed Houthi loyalists who tried to storm the house under the pretext that they were searching for anti-Houthi actors, which is a justification they often flash before storming and looting the homes of expatriates.”

The situation was later settled by paying off militants 5 million Yemeni rials to leave the premise.

Similar to Baadani’s case, many other homes and farmlands have been raided by Houthi gunmen. Ali Morshid Al Wasabi, for example, had his farmland confiscated and transformed into a private militia graveyard.

“I came to visit my family after having been gone for a year, and I was surprised by an armed group of Houthi men who wanted to take my land. I tried to prevent them, yet without avail. They asked for a huge amount of money that I am unable to pay,” Wasabi told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Unchecked, Houthi ring commanders are independently ransacking and stealing lands, something which has created fierce competition among warlords vying to secure personal interests.

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