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Case study - DNA sample collection in Yemen

Yemen DNA immigration

On the 14th of June, 2019, Identilab was engaged to undertake DNA testing for immigration purposes by Mohammad, who lives in Perth, and his parents, who live in Yemen. Mohammad needed this testing done to provide evidence of a biological relationship between him and his parents to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Yemen is one of the Arab world's poorest countries and has been devastated by a civil war that began in 2015 between two factions: the Yemeni government, led by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, and the Houthi armed movement, along with their supporters and allies. Thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed and injured since the conflict began in 2015. As of November 2018, 6,872 civilians had been killed and 10,768 wounded, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The actual number is likely to be much higher. Thousands more have been displaced by the fighting and millions suffer from shortages of food and medical care (source:https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/yemen).

Coordinating a DNA sample collection in a war-torn country is no easy task, and took several months to arrange. As there is no Australian diplomatic mission in Yemen, the Australian Consulate-General in Dubai manages visa and citizenship services for these clients. This meant that Identilab had to liaise with Dubai, as well as the panel physician in Sana'a, Yemen, and the International Organisation for Migration, who would act as an independent witness to the process.

Following much discussion, an Identilab DNA collection kit was dispatched to IOM in Sana'a on the 7th of August. Given the situation in Yemen, it was not delivered until the 2nd of September. It then took another five weeks to coordinate all the relevant parties and have the samples collected from Mohammad's parents.

The next obstacle was getting the DNA samples out of Yemen and into Australia. Since 2015, the Australian Government has imposed prohibitions on the carriage of air cargo originating from Yemen. We have previously experienced this with clients in Egypt, which is also included in the ban, and knew we would have to again coordinate with multiple parties in order to get these samples out of Yemen. It was agreed that a representative from the International Organisation for Migration would travel with the samples to Amman in Jordan where they would then hand them over to an Australian Embassy staff member. Once this occurred it was quickly shipped to us in Australia and arrived a few days later. The results of the parentage testing were sent to the client and the AAT within 48 hours of us receiving the samples. 

It was a stressful time for staff at Identilab to ensure this process happened as quickly as possible for our clients (with many sleepless nights for the Laboratory Director!), but it was an absolute honour to be able to provide such an important service to Mohammad and his family, who are still awaiting the outcome of the Administrative Appeal Tribunal process. We wish them all the very best for the future. 

“Very extremely thanks to you and identilab team. You been very helpful and supportive. I deeply appreciate it. I will recommend you to anyone that I know who wants to do the same test. And a very special thanks for you Kate. I hope one day to meet you in person to thank you. You done such great work by following immigration departments, embassies and other organisations. I feel relieved now. God bless you and take care all.”

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