LONDON (JTA) – Britain is nearing an agreement to take in persecuted Jews from Yemen who have relatives in the country.
Britain’s Foreign Office is talking with Yemen authorities about the transfer of some Jews who have been attacked amid rising anti-Jewish sentiment in northern Yemen and the growing al-Qaida-inspired militancy, according to the Independent newspaper.
The report said that 20 to 30 families living in the northern town of Raida have relatives living in Britain. They are seeking sanctuary because of rising hate attacks, murders and forced conversions by the hostile Shia al-Houthi tribe, which dominates Yemen’s mountainous border with Saudi Arabia.
Last year the U.S. State Department arranged the evacuation of more than 100 Yemeni Jews who have relatives in the United States.
Britain previously has refused to grant visas to Jews from Yemen, but according to the nearly completed agreement, Raida Jews with British connections will be invited to apply for a three-month visitor visa to see their UK relatives. Once they are out of Yemen, the Raida Jews will be able to claim refugee status, although each application will be considered on an individual basis, unlike in the United States, where all Yemeni Jews are guaranteed asylum.
Spiriting the families out of the country on a visitor visa frees the Yemeni authorities from embarrassment and allows them to avoid claims that they can no longer protect the country’s Jewish population, according to the Independent.