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Uzbekistan

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution and laws provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, but the government limited these rights, in particular through the continued requirement for citizens to receive an exit visa for travel outside the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

In-country Movement: Citizens were required to have a domicile registration stamp in their passport before traveling domestically or leaving the country, and the government at times delayed domestic and foreign travel and emigration during the visa application process. Permission from local authorities was required to move to Tashkent City or the Tashkent Region; given the narrow scope of the ground for Tashkent registration, authorities rarely granted such permission without the payment of bribes. Those living and working without Tashkent City or Tashkent Region registration were unable to receive city services and could not legally work, send their children to school, or receive routine medical care.

The government required hotels to register foreign visitors with the government on a daily basis. Foreigners staying in private homes were required to register their location within three days of arrival. Government officials closely monitored foreigners in border areas, but foreigners generally could move within the country without restriction.

Foreign Travel: The government occasionally closed borders around national holidays due to security concerns. The government generally granted the requisite exit visas for citizens and foreign permanent residents to travel or emigrate outside the CIS. Exit visa procedures, however, allow authorities to deny travel based on “information demonstrating the inexpedience of the travel.” According to civil society activists, these provisions were poorly defined and denials could not be appealed. Authorities sometimes interfered in foreign travel if the purpose of the trip was expressly religious in nature. There were reports of significant delays in the issuance of new passports, which reportedly could be reduced with bribes.

The government requires male relatives of women between the ages of 18 and 35 to submit a statement pledging that the women would not engage in illegal behavior, including prostitution while abroad, a regulation the government says is aimed at combating trafficking in persons. Observers noted, however, that the majority of Uzbek trafficking victims abroad were male victims of labor trafficking.

Although the law requires authorities to reach a decision on issuing exit visas within 15 days, the government reportedly delayed exit visas for human rights activists and independent journalists to prevent their travel. Authorities continued to deny exit visas to human rights activists Shukhrat Rustamov, Uktam Pardaev, Elena Urlaeva, Adelaida Kim, Khaitboy Yakubov, and others. Violating rules for exiting or entering the country is punishable by imprisonment of five to 10 years.

While citizens generally could travel to neighboring states, land travel to Afghanistan remained difficult because citizens needed permission from the NSS.

Emigration and Repatriation: The law does not provide for dual citizenship and requires returning citizens to be able to prove they did not acquire foreign citizenship while abroad or face loss of citizenship. Citizens possessing dual citizenship did not have recourse to benefits granted by foreign citizenship while in Uzbekistan but generally traveled without impediment if they followed Uzbek law.

The government noted that citizens residing outside the country for more than six months could voluntarily register with Uzbekistan’s consulates.

According to the 2015 amendments to the Law on Citizenship, the state can revoke citizenship of those citizens who cause harm to the interests of the society and state; engage in activities in favor of a foreign state; or commit crimes against peace and security. Information regarding the implementation and impact of these amendments, including the number of those whose citizenship was revoked was not provided by the government.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: The laws do not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees.

Refoulement: The government provided some protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

In the absence of a resident Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Program (UNDP) continued to assist with monitoring and resettlement processing of 18 pending (predominantly Afghan) refugee cases involving 27 individuals; such cases predated the closure of the local UNHCR office in 2006. During the year UNDP and temporary duty UNHCR staff processed five cases involving seven persons. Because the UNDP does not process new claims or make refugee status determinations, it referred potential applicants to UNHCR offices in neighboring countries.

The government did not accept UNHCR mandate certificates as a basis for extended legal residence; persons carrying such certificates must apply for either tourist visas or residence permits or face possible deportation. Residence permits were difficult to obtain. The government considered UNHCR mandate refugees from Afghanistan and Tajikistan to be economic migrants, and officials occasionally subjected them to harassment and demands for bribes. Most refugees from Tajikistan were ethnic Uzbeks. Unlike refugees from Afghanistan, those from Tajikistan were able to integrate into the local communities, and the local population supported them.

STATELESS PERSONS

Some refugees from Tajikistan were officially stateless or faced the possibility of becoming officially stateless, as many carried only old Soviet passports rather than Tajik or Uzbek passports. Children born to two stateless parents could receive Uzbek citizenship only if both parents had a residence permit.

Although official data on the number of stateless persons was not available, authoritative human rights activists estimated there were 3,000 stateless persons in Khorezm Province and the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. Most of these individuals reportedly were women who had married and lived in neighboring Turkmenistan prior to the country’s independence in 1991. There also were reports of stateless populations in Sirdaryo and Qashkadaryo Provinces. There were reports of authorities revoking citizenship for ethnic Tajiks on allegations of fraud, even in cases where Uzbek passports had been issued more than a decade ago, rendering such citizens stateless.

Venezuela

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation; however, the government did not respect these rights.

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: Beginning in August 2015 and continuing during the year, the government implemented OLP security measures and increased the presence of security forces in Tachira State on the Colombian border. Authorities deported more than 1,700 Colombians in early stages of operations, and at least 22,000 more left the country due to fear of security abuses or deportation, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. According to Colombia’s Ombudsman’s Office, which investigated 700 cases of deportations, none of the interviewed deportees received a hearing in order to challenge their removal. Many deportees claimed to have had legal permits to live in Venezuela. More than 400 of the Colombians who returned to Colombia had either requested asylum or been granted refugee status by Venezuela, according to the Global Protection Cluster in Colombia.

With the refugee status determination process centralized at the National Refugee Commission (CONARE) headquarters in Caracas, asylum seekers waited as long as three years to obtain a final decision. During this period they had to continue renewing their documentation every three months to stay in the country and avoid arrest and deportation. While travelling to the commission, particularly vulnerable groups, such as women with young children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, faced increased protection risks, such as arrest and deportation, extortion, exploitation, and sexual abuse by authorities at checkpoints and other locations.

In addition to arbitrary deportations, Colombians expelled from the country complained of abuses by security forces. The IACHR reported that many deported Colombians alleged Venezuelan security forces used excessive force to evict them from their homes, which were subsequently destroyed, and that security agents subjected them to physical abuse and forceful separation from their families.

While no official statistics were available, a women’s shelter reported recurring problems with gender-based violence and trafficking of refugee women.

Also see the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

The government generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern.

In-country Movement: Following the declaration of a localized “state of exception” in August 2015, the government suspended transit through the national territory, including across international borders, and closed the border with Colombia. In August 2016 the countries negotiated an agreement to reopen the border gradually.

The government deployed thousands of security forces to restrict access to Caracas in the days leading up a major opposition-organized rally on September 1. Citing public safety, the government also routinely shut down public transportation networks on days and in areas where the opposition attempted to hold political rallies.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: According to UNHCR, 98 percent of asylum seekers came from Colombia. UNHCR estimated there were approximately 167,000 Colombian citizens in need of international protection in the country. Most of the Colombians had not accessed procedures for refugee status determination, due to the inefficiency of the process. UNHCR reported only 6,843 persons legally recognized as refugees. The influx of individuals seeking international protection continued through the different border areas until August 2015, when the government began closing key border crossings between Tachira and Zulia states and Colombia as part of the “states of exception” and the OLP. The vast majority of such persons remained without any protection.

On January 12, the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman and UNHCR signed an agreement to guarantee refugees’ human rights. The agreement aimed to expand the presence of regional ombudsman offices in the border regions. On May 27, CONARE and UNHCR launched a joint program to better assist refugees’ needs. The program was designed to provide for a more complete registry of refugees, including victims of human trafficking.

Access to Basic Services: Colombian asylum seekers without legal residency permits had limited access to the job market, education, and health systems. The lack of documentation created significant challenges to achieving sufficient protection and long-term integration.

Vietnam

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, but the government imposed some limits on the movement of certain individuals, especially those convicted under national security or related charges or those outspoken in their criticism of the government. The government generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

The government allowed UNHCR fact-finding and monitoring visits, but local authorities closely monitored all aspects of such visits. Some members of ethnic minority groups who fled the Central Highlands for Cambodia or Thailand, some reportedly due to religious persecution, asserted that upon their return, Vietnamese authorities detained and questioned them, sometimes for up to several days. Family members also reported police closely monitored both those who had fled to Cambodia and Thailand, and their relatives.

In-country Movement: Several political dissidents, amnestied with probation or under house arrest, were officially restricted in their movements. These included Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Phuong Uyen, Nguyen Tien Trung, and Dinh Nhat Uy. The Ministry of Public Security continued to monitor and selectively restrict the movement of prominent activists Nguyen Dan Que, Nguyen Bac Truyen, Pham Ba Hai, Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Hong Quang, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Pham Minh Hoang, Thich Khong Tanh, Duong Thi Tan, Tran Minh Nhat, and Tran Thi Nga, among many others. Many activists reported they resorted to deceptive tactics to avoid travel restrictions. Several activists reported authorities had confiscated their national identification cards, preventing them from traveling domestically by air and from conducting routine administrative matters. Other activists and religious leaders reported increased freedom of in-country movement compared with previous years.

Some activists reported authorities prevented them and their family members from leaving their homes during politically sensitive events (see also section 1.d.).

On April 17, Hanoi authorities reportedly prevented members of the Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam from meeting at a coffee shop to discuss the upcoming visit of a foreign leader. Plainclothes police blocked members Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Vu Quoc Ngu from departing their homes. Police also detained members for different reasons to prevent their attendance; police detained Pham Chi Dung at the Giang Vo police station, ostensibly for a traffic violation, and authorities detained Bui Minh Quoc at Kim Lien police station to discuss his residential registration.

On May 20, police in Ho Chi Minh City reportedly assaulted and detained for two days former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Viet Dung at Cau Kho ward police station, in District 1. Police forced Dung to return to Nghe An Province on May 22. As soon as he landed in Vinh, the capital of Nghe An Province, local police forced him into a vehicle and assaulted and interrogated him. Local police officials later returned him to his home in Yen Thanh district, Nghe An Province. Ministry of Public Security and police officials reportedly took these actions to prevent Dung from meeting a visiting foreign leader in Ho Chi Minh City.

A government restriction regarding travel to certain areas required citizens and resident foreigners to obtain a permit to visit border areas, defense facilities, industrial zones involved in national defense, areas of “national strategic storage,” and “works of extreme importance for political, economic, cultural, and social purposes.”

Local police required citizens to register when staying overnight in any location outside of their own homes; the government appeared to enforce these requirements more strictly in some Central and Northern Highlands districts. Foreign passport holders must also register to stay in private homes, although there were no known cases of local authorities refusing to allow foreign visitors to stay with friends and family. There were multiple reports of police using the excuse of “checking on residency registration” to intimidate and harass activists and prevent them from traveling outside of their place of registration (see sections 1.c., 1.d., and 1.f.).

In general authorities did not strictly enforce residency laws, and migration from rural areas to cities continued unabated. Moving without permission, however, hampered persons seeking legal residence permits, public education, and health-care benefits.

Foreign Travel: Prospective emigrants occasionally encountered difficulties obtaining a passport; authorities regularly confiscated passports, at times indefinitely. There were multiple reports of individuals who fled abroad via the land borders with Laos or Cambodia because they were unable to obtain passports or exit permission.

The Ministry of Public Security continued to use foreign travel prohibitions against certain activists and religious leaders. Authorities banned and prevented dozens of individuals from traveling overseas or entering the country, withheld their passports on vague charges, or refused to issue passports to certain activists or religious leaders without clear explanation.

Although their probation or prison terms ended, the government continued to prohibit Le Quoc Quan, Nguyen Khac Toan, Pham Ba Hai, Pham Hong Son, Le Thi Kim Thu, Nguyen Hong Quang, and other former prisoners of conscience from receiving a passport and traveling overseas. Authorities also refused to issue passports to the family members of certain activists, including the wife of former prisoner of conscience Le Quoc Quan.

In July and August, authorities at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City separately stopped pastor Pham Ngoc Thach and lawyer Le Cong Dinh and banned them from traveling abroad to attend a human rights conference.

On September 28, authorities at Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi banned Defend the Defenders’ leader Vu Quoc Ngu from traveling to a Reporters Without Borders meeting in Paris, citing national security and social order reasons.

Other individuals temporarily detained or harassed upon return from travel abroad included activist Nguyen Anh Tuan; human rights advocate Mai Van Tam; and Vu Minh Khanh, the wife of detained human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai.

Activists and religious leaders reported multiple instances where security authorities had issued passports and allowed foreign travel after refusing to do so for many years. In these instances, however, police required that travelers report on their activities abroad upon their return to Vietnam.

Emigration and Repatriation: The government generally permitted citizens who emigrated to return to visit, but police denied entry visas to and sometimes deported some foreign-based political activists. Ministry of Public Security officials made clear that prisoners of conscience who received temporary suspended sentences to allow for their relocation abroad could have their sentences reimposed if they attempted to return to Vietnam.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees.

Refoulement: According to international human rights NGOs, the government pressured Cambodia and Thailand to return members of Central Highlands ethnic minority groups who had fled to Cambodia or Thailand seeking refugee status and protection from harassment and restrictions on religious freedom by Vietnamese officials. NGOs also reported that Vietnamese security officials, including provincial security agents from Gia Lai Province, visited Bangkok and contacted asylum seekers via Facebook to monitor them and pressure them to return to Vietnam.

In November 2015 a UNHCR spokesperson expressed concern about reports that authorities arrested nine North Korean nationals in October and subsequently transferred them to China, where they were at risk of deportation to North Korea. The spokesperson noted that, if repatriated, the individuals would be at risk of very serious human rights violations.

STATELESS PERSONS

Authorities reported that by 2013 they had naturalized nearly all of the 10,000 individuals who had been stateless and previously resident in Cambodia. UNHCR officials estimated that fewer than 200 persons awaited final approval by the government at year’s end. The government also continued to work to restore citizenship for approximately 800 stateless women who had lost Vietnamese nationality after moving abroad to marry foreigners but had subsequently returned to Vietnam upon losing their foreign citizenship (in many cases due to divorce).

Yemen

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation.

Prior to 2014 the transitional government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern. The Houthi takeover and the ensuing conflict, however, made it difficult for humanitarian organizations to reach many areas of the country due to security concerns. The Hadi-led government did not and could not enforce the law, even in government-controlled areas, due to capacity and governance issues.

According to UNHCR, the country’s laws and policies were consistent with international standards, but the authorities’ capacity to protect and assist persons in need was limited. No authority was able to provide services in some parts of the country.

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: In past years multiple NGOs reported that criminal smuggling groups built a large number of “camps” near the Yemen-Saudi border city of Haradh, where militants held migrants for extortion and ransom.

UNHCR and partners continued to face challenges accessing detention centers. UNHCR negotiated with relevant ministries to find alternative means to monitor refugees and asylum seekers in detention.

UNHCR reported in July that it received access to more than 40 Eritreans and Ethiopians detained in Hudaydah and al-Mahwit Governorates, most of whom wished to seek asylum. On July 3, UNHCR reported that all detained Somalis holding government-issued refugee identification documents (more than 50 individuals) were reportedly released from Hudaydah central prison. By late July, 36 Eritrean asylum-seekers and approximately 200 Somalis (who did not have identification cards) remained in Hudaydah central prison. On July 2, UNHCR secured the release of six Somalis from the Al Mansura detention center in Aden.

In-country Movement: Rebel forces, resistance forces, elements of the army and security forces, and tribesmen maintained checkpoints on major roads. In many regions, especially in areas outside effective central security control, armed tribesmen frequently restricted freedom of movement, operating their own checkpoints, sometimes with military or other security officials, and often subjected travelers to physical harassment, extortion, theft, or short-term kidnappings for ransom. Damage to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure from the conflict also hindered the delivery of humanitarian aid and commercial shipments (see section 1.g., Other Conflict-related Abuses).

Social discrimination severely restricted women’s freedom of movement. Women in general did not enjoy full freedom of movement, although restrictions varied by location. Some observers reported increased restrictions on women in conservative locations, such as Sa’ada. Oxfam reported that men at checkpoints increasingly insisted on adherence to the “mahram” system, the cultural obligation of women to be accompanied by male relatives in public, in areas controlled by radical Islamic groups, such as AQAP. The report also noted that female respondents ranked the key factor limiting women’s freedom of movement as the lack of cultural acceptance, followed by lack of security (see section 6, Women).

Authorities required travel permits for all non-Yemeni nationals leaving Sana’a.

The OHCHR reported that local authorities evicted at least 155 persons from Aden following a “carry your identification” campaign that witnesses claimed was used to displace northerners who were later captured and forcibly transported out of Aden.

Foreign Travel: In the past women needed to have the permission of a male guardian, such as a husband, before applying for a passport or leaving the country. A husband or male relative could bar a woman from leaving the country by placing a woman’s name on a “no-fly list” maintained at airports. Prior to the conflict, authorities strictly enforced this requirement when women traveled with children, but there were no reports of this requirement being enforced by authorities during the year. There were attempts, however, by Houthi rebels to impose similar restrictions on women’s international travel. Given the deterioration of infrastructure and lack of security due to the conflict, many women reportedly declined to travel alone (see section 6, Women).

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS

According to the Task Force on Population Movement, co-led by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there were more than 2.1 million IDPs as of November. The government’s IDP registration system has been on pause since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015.

IDPs originated from all governorates and have dispersed throughout the country. Ta’iz hosted 66 percent (620,934 individuals) of the identified IDP population, while the neighboring governorates of Ibb and Lahj hosted the next largest IDP populations with 12 percent (111,384 individuals) and 6 percent (52,866 individuals), respectively. Approximately 86 percent of the total conflict-displaced population originated from the governorates of Ta’iz, Hajjah, Amanat Al Asimah, Sa’ada, and Sana’a, according to the Task Force on Population Movement.

Humanitarian organizations’ access to IDPs was generally poor due to the continuing conflict; however, the ICRC and MSF maintained a presence in multiple locations throughout the country. According to the United Nations, humanitarian organizations, local NGOs, and charities that still functioned in the capital supported IDPs in Sana’a with food, shelter, and nonfood items. IDPs from Sa’ada reported limited access to cash for purchasing basic household items. Most IDPs were farmers and had no other means to earn an income while in Sana’a.

Prevention of distribution of humanitarian goods, armed robberies, theft of vehicles, and the looting of offices impeded humanitarian organizations’ access to and support of IDPs.

There was a marked increase in food insecurity throughout the country, and rates of acute malnutrition were high among IDPs and other vulnerable groups (see section 1.g., Other Conflict-related Abuses).

The IOM reported that IDPs largely sought refuge with relatives or friends or rented accommodations, where many faced frequent threats of eviction due to late payments of rent. Others were housed in unconventional shelters in public or private buildings, such as schools, health facilities, or religious buildings, primarily in Ta’iz and Lahj. By June 30, UNHCR had provided more than 41,550 IDP households (some 261,700 individuals) with nonfood items and more than 12,600 households (some 88,450 individuals) with full emergency shelter kits in 16 of the country’s 22 governorates.

Since July 2015 the Saudi government-run King Salman (KS) Relief agency set up a temporary camp for displaced persons in al-Abr District, 60 miles south of al-Wadiah border crossing. This camp provided services for as many as 3,000 IDPs, including electricity, air conditioning, and drinking water. Late in the year, however, KS Relief decided to close the camp due to security problems that included fires and the theft of electricity generators. As of year’s end, the camp remained open due to bureaucratic delays in officially closing it.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Yemen maintained open borders during the conflict and received refugees from a variety of countries. Many refugees became increasingly vulnerable due to the worsening security and economic situation in the country. Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and other refugees shared in the general poverty and insecurity of the country.

UNHCR estimated that from January until November, despite the conflict, more than 100,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants arrived in the country by sea, the majority from Ethiopia as well as from Somalia and other countries. Many were attempting to reach or return to Saudi Arabia for work, deceived by smugglers who told them the conflict in Yemen was over, according to UNHCR. UNHCR figures indicated there were approximately 268,000 refugees in the country as of June 30; as of November this included at least 90,000 Ethiopians and 17,000 Somalis. Due to the fighting, many had been displaced from Aden to the camp at Kharaz and towns in southern Yemen. The Hadi-led government could not provide physical protection to refugees, and many were held in detention centers operated by Houthi-Saleh rebels in the North and the government in the South. UNHCR claimed there were reports of refugees facing physical and sexual abuse as well as torture and forced labor and that many refugees were susceptible to trafficking.

In November the United Nations estimated that 178,000 persons had fled the country since the outbreak of conflict, some seeking to cross the border into Saudi Arabia, others to cross the Red Sea for Djibouti, Somalia, or other nearby countries, despite the difficulty and danger of the crossing. Approximately one-third of the persons who fled the country were citizens; others included Somali refugees, Ethiopians, Djiboutians, Sudanese, and other foreign nationals who had worked in Yemen prior to the conflict.

Access to Asylum: The country is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocol; however, no law addresses the granting of refugee status or asylum, and there was no system for providing protection to asylum seekers. In past years the government provided automatic refugee status to Somalis who entered the country. There was no information available on whether this practice continued during the conflict. The majority of new arrivals during the year came from Ethiopia, with others from Eritrea, Iraq, Syria, and other countries recognized under UNHCR’s mandate.

Refoulement: In September media outlets reported that UAE-supported Security Belt Forces deported more than 200 migrants, mostly Ethiopians, from Aden. In October an estimated 1,000 Ethiopian migrants escaped a detention center where approximately 1,400 Ethiopians were being held prior to deportation. The IOM reported that Hadi-led government authorities expelled more than 240 migrants between December 16 and 19, dropping them in the water off the Djibouti shore. Since mid-October, Hadi-led government authorities expelled more than 1,200 migrants, mostly Ethiopian, to Djibouti.

Freedom of Movement: Freedom of movement remained difficult for all in the country, including refugees, given the damage to roads, bridges, and basic infrastructure caused by the conflict. In addition, most of the country’s airports have incurred significant damage or been closed, making travel difficult. In areas controlled by Houthi-Saleh rebels, “illegal” or unofficial checkpoints caused unnecessary delays or blocked the movement of individuals or goods.

Access to Basic Services: In camps in Sana’a and in the Kharaz camp in Lahj and the Basateen camp in Aden, UNHCR’s partners, the International Medical Corps and the Charitable Society for Social Welfare, provided medical consultations and essential medicines to more than 2,530 refugees as well as to 1,800 IDPs, mental health and psychological support to approximately 310 refugees and 40 IDPs, HIV treatments and tests to some 160 individuals, life-saving and specialized referral services to 150 refugees, and reproductive health services to 165 pregnant refugees and 90 IDPs, as well as vaccines to 240 refugees and 45 IDP children.

Community outreach counselling and awareness sessions were provided to 1,350 refugees and 710 IDPs on various problems, including HIV, hygiene promotion, nutrition, vaccinations, measles, and dengue fever. At Mayfa’a Reception Center (Shabwah Governorate), 3,130 new arrivals received medical consultation and 8,600 new arrivals were vaccinated.

Zimbabwe

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, but the government restricted these rights. The government generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern, but it interfered with some humanitarian efforts directed at IDPs.

Abuse of Migrants, Refugees, and Stateless Persons: Security forces detained irregular migrants in prisons with convicted criminals. The government provided no alternatives to detention, and prolonged detention for migrants was common. Migrants complained of mistreatment by other prisoners.

In-country Movement: Police made in-country movement difficult by regularly mounting checkpoints nationwide along most major routes. In urban areas a single road could have several roadblocks in the span of a few miles. Despite court injunctions against “on-the-spot” fines, police levied fines for minor offenses ranging from five to several hundred dollars and demanded immediate payment. Pro-ZANU-PF police chiefs retained and failed to account for money collected at checkpoints. The government did not account for overall revenue collected as fines from these roadblocks in the national budget.

Foreign Travel: The constitution provides the right for citizens to enter and leave the country and the right to a passport or other travel documents. The Office of the Registrar General imposed administrative obstacles in the passport application process for citizens entitled to dual citizenship, particularly Malawian, Zambian, and Mozambican citizenship. Despite high-profile cases in which courts confirmed the rights of Zimbabweans to hold dual citizenship, many poorer citizens could not afford the legal costs of appealing passport and other travel document denials.

Exile: The constitution prohibits expulsion from the country for all citizens. Nevertheless, a number of persons, including former government officials, prominent businessmen, human rights activists, opposition party members, and human rights lawyers, left the country and remained in self-imposed exile due to fear of persecution.

Emigration and Repatriation: Many citizens left the country to settle in other countries. The majority of white citizens who lost their farms beginning in 2000 continued to move to other countries. Zambia continued to support white Zimbabwean former farmers by making land available at concessionary rates. In search of employment, young Zimbabweans routinely settled in South Africa and Botswana. Although South Africa and Botswana repatriated hundreds of them each year, a majority of these individuals eventually found their way back to these countries.

Citizenship: The constitution provides for three different classes of citizenship: by birth, by descent, or by registration. The government deprived some sections of the population of citizenship rights based on the law, which revokes the citizenship of persons who fail to return to the country in any five-year period.

Despite a constitutional provision of citizenship and having voted previously, some persons were denied the right to vote during the 2013 elections because they could not adequately demonstrate their citizenship. In contravention of a 2002 High Court ruling that overturned laws barring dual citizenship, independent groups estimated that as many as two million citizens might have been disenfranchised, including those perceived to have anti-ZANU-PF leanings, such as the more than 200,000 former commercial farm workers from neighboring countries and approximately 30,000 mostly white dual nationals.

INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS

According to international organizations, approximately 113,000 households were displaced, and more than 250 groups of identified IDPs lived throughout the country. The primary causes of displacement were natural disasters (27.7 percent), localized conflict (13.3 percent), rural evictions (45.7 percent), and urban evictions (13.1 percent). The most significant historical events that created internal displacement included state-sponsored election-related violence, land reform, and Operation Murambatsvina (the government’s eviction of citizens from nonfarming areas in 2005). According to one NGO, Murambatsvina resulted in the destruction of homes and livelihoods affecting an estimated 700,000 persons. Until 2009 the government denied the existence of any IDPs.

In 2014 approximately 15,000 persons were displaced from the vicinity of the Tokwe-Mukosi dam in Masvingo Province. Authorities first moved the IDPs to the Chingwizi transit camp and then to resettlement plots. IDPs continued to lack adequate shelter, food, and water. There were also inadequate health, education, and sanitation facilities in the camp.

Other recent documented displacements were from disputed farming areas. At year’s end several thousand households in disputed farming areas were at risk of displacement due to verifiable threats or eviction notices. Most of the persons displaced had resided on their land for years without formal offer letters or title deeds. Eviction notices often were served in the presence of police or army personnel. The government’s campaign of forced evictions and the demolition of homes and businesses continued during the year under the land reform policy. The government provided no resettlement assistance to evicted families and depended primarily on international organizations to do so.

The overall rate of displacement increased due to urban evictions as well as continued farm evictions in rural areas. IDPs from previous years remained in near-emergency conditions, with an overwhelming majority living without basic sanitation. IDPs were among the populations at greatest risk of food insecurity. In addition to improved living conditions, IDPs required regularization of their status. Without needing any official documentation, several generations of farm workers originally from neighboring countries previously resided in insular commercial farming communities. With the eviction of farm owners, these farm workers were forced to adjacent communal lands and left without employment as well as health and education services.

Government-led humanitarian assistance programs were insufficient to meet the needs of targeted populations and subject to increased politicization during the year. Farm inputs and food aid occasionally were channeled through patronage networks or denied to those perceived as supporting ZANU-PF’s opponents. Despite this discrimination, the government generally cooperated with international agencies and NGOs providing humanitarian assistance.

Contractors and NGOs independent of the government that carried out food security and other assessments faced challenges in accessing certain rural districts. In isolated cases local authorities advised organizations against traveling to farms involved in ownership disputes, where aid workers might be at risk.

PROTECTION OF REFUGEES

Access to Asylum: The country’s laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. According to UNHCR, the country hosted approximately 8,800 refugees and asylum seekers during the year.

Freedom of movement: The government maintained a formal encampment policy requiring refugees to live at the Tongogara refugee camp. Nevertheless, at year’s end more than 1,000 refugees lived in urban areas, including Harare and Bulawayo.

Employment: Refugees in the informal sector had limited employment options due to the encampment policy requiring all refugees to reside in the Tongogara refugee camp.

Durable Solutions: While the government did not accept refugees from foreign countries for resettlement, it facilitated the voluntary repatriation of refugees to their home countries by recognizing the Voluntary Repatriation Declaration Form as a valid document for travel purposes. The government also allowed Rwandan refugees, who lost prima facie refugee status following implementation of the 2013 Rwandan cessation clause, to remain in the country. Many refugees were unwilling to return to their home countries voluntarily, and resettlement remained the only viable solution for many of them.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future