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Activist Groups Launch to Rescue Americans

They also filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government for its failure to rescue American citizens.

Bay Area resident Mokhtar Alkhanshali made a harrowing escape from the war-torn country.

Although the violence in Yemen has rapidly escalated in the past several months as Houthi rebels battle for control of the government and a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of Arab governments bombard the country with airstrikes, the U.S. State Department announced that it does not currently have any evacuations plans in place for Americans trapped in the embattled country. In reponse, three activist groups—the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee , Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus—launched a site to aid those Americans who are looking for a way out. The site, called StuckInYemen, features a form where American citizens can report themselves and recieve assistance for evacuation. Already, more than 200 entries have been made.

“All citizens are entitled to protection from their government. The United States government has an obligation to protect their citizens in foreign nations,” the site says on its homepage. “This is one of the fundamental reasons for the existence of U.S. consultates and embassies in foreign nations. Unfortunately, the United States government and embassies abandoned Yemeni Americans in February 2015.”

One Arab-American has already been killed in the violence—Jamal al-Labani, from Oakland, CA, was the first American casualty. Another Bay Area man, however, was able to escape the violence on his own, although he almost lost his life doing so.

"We're hearing from people that are stuck all over the country," said Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to NPR. "We imagine there are many more people who don't know about it or haven't Internet access to be able to enter their information.”

Today, the triad of activist groups also announced at a press conference that it will be suing the U.S. government for its failure to assist those stuck in Yemen. They hope the lawsuit will provoke the U.S. to action.

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