Thousands of Americans stranded in Yemen amid pandemic

The State Department has not responded to thousands of requests made by Americans stuck in Yemen.

Thousands of U.S. citizens remain stranded in Yemen more than three months after the country closed its borders to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Approximately 300 of the stranded citizens were brought home by the State Department on two flights on June 28 and July 1, but advocates have expressed alarm about those remaining in the country in what they characterize as an increasingly desperate situation.

According to Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), thousands of Americans have been stranded in Yemen after borders and airports closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, as was first reported by The Hill Friday.

Ahmed Mohamed, litigation director for CAIR, told Fox News Friday that the organization has received over 500 requests of assistance from Americans stuck in Yemen, and the State Department has received over 2,000.

“Every single American deserves to have their government protect them when they are in harm’s way in a foreign country and to be repatriated under a public health emergency that has really impacted the entire world,” he said.

The State Department scheduled two flights that brought home approximately 300 Americans, on June 28 and July first, but they have not addressed the thousands of other American’s still attempting to return home.

“There’s anywhere from 1,500 or more Americans who are still stranded in Yemen trying to find a way back to the United States and they can’t – and right now they’re not getting any help from their government,” Mohamed said.

“It’s disturbing that our government has not done more for its citizens who are trapped in a foreign country that’s in the middle of a civil war, middle of a COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mohamed says the State Department needs to address why for three months they did not make efforts to evacuate American’s from Yemen as they did in “dozens and dozens if not a hundred different countries around the world.”

“It looks like the State Department sat on its hands for three months, hoping that no one would find out that these Americans were stranded,” Mohamed told Fox News.

They have never been able to receive an “adequate response” as to why more Americans have been unable to return to the U.S., simply saying that they do not have adequate resources in Yemen as the U.S. Embassy closed in 2015, at the start of the civil war.

As a result, “easily dozens” of Americans have been stranded in Yemen for months and in many cases, people are in need of consulate assistance for a variety of reasons – as in the case of Miriam Alghazali, an American, born and raised in New York, who has been stranded in Yemen and was unable to return to the U.S. to give birth.

Their requests to leave Yemen were not answered by the State Department.

The State Department has reportedly told the family and the representatives at CAIR that she will now need to go to a neighboring country to visit a U.S. consulate and retrieve a passport for their infant, in order to be allowed back into the U.S.

“Mind you the whole problem with Yemen is there’s no way to leave Yemen,” Mohamed said.

CAIR is continuing to advocate for the Alghazali family’s return to the U.S., along with thousands of other Americans.

“America is the world’s super power,” Mohamed said. “If America cannot secure its citizens, then that really speaks to America’s priorities, this government’s priorities.”