Yemen – A gas site operated by a company controlled in part by the French group Total has housed a secret prison used by Emirati soldiers in 2017 and 2018 in Balhaf, southern Yemen, say three NGOs in a report released Thursday 7 November.

The site, which includes a gas liquefaction plant and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, ceased operation in 2015 due to the war in Yemen. "According to open sources and testimonies, since 2016 it has hosted a militia – the elite forces of Shabwa – under the control of the United Arab Emirates," write the Armaments Observatory, SumOfUs and Friends of the Earth.

"These testimonies record inhuman and degrading treatment (deprivation of care, torture) committed by Emirati soldiers," they add. "The people who are locked up there are generally accused of belonging to al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQPA)", on the basis of "often groundless suspicions or personal revenge," they continue.

Total says he does not know

The site is operated by Yemen LNG, of which Total is a 39.6% shareholder alongside the American company Hunt (17.2%), Korean companies (21.4%) and Yemeni public companies (21.7%). %).

According to a daily survey The world published this Thursday, November 7, the place of detention is on a military base developed by the UAE in mid-2017 on part of the gas site, which had been requisitioned at the request of the Yemeni government.

"People were still locked up in Balhaf in mid-2019," says The world, noting that the base has been used to launch anti-terrorism operations in the region, including in 2017.

The group Total responded Thursday in a statement that it "does not have any specific information as to the use made by the coalition of the party requisitioned".

AQPA growing stronger in the region

"Total does not control Yemen LNG and does not act directly on the Balhaf site managed by Yemen LNG, but indirectly as a shareholder or through seconded personnel in the company," he said. he adds.

Balhaf is located on the Gulf of Aden in Shabwa province, which has been the scene of fierce fighting between supporters of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Shiite Houthi rebels who have seized vast areas of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

In the face of the rise of the Houthis, linked to Shiite Iran, Sunni Saudi Arabia took the lead in 2015 of a coalition of nine Arab countries and conducted a campaign of air strikes against the rebels. President Hadi fled Yemen to seek refuge in Ryad.

The al-Qaeda group in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqpa) took advantage of the weakening of central power to strengthen its hold in the south and southeast.

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