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  HOME | Uruguay

Former Guantanamo Detainees in Uruguay Ask Government for Help

MONTEVIDEO – Two of the six former Guantanamo detainees who arrived in Uruguay two months ago as refugees spoke out on Wednesday to ask for more financial assistance from the government.

In separate interviews aired on the television program “Telemundo,” Syrian nationals Abu Wael Dhiab and Ali Al-Shaaban said they needed time to recover physically and emotionally from their captivity.

Both men also expressed a desire to be reunited with their families.

Governments who agree to accept former inmates of the U.S. detention facility in Cuba should bear in mind that “someone who leaves Guantanamo will need his family, he will need a home for them, he will need work and some income that permits him to build his future,” Dhiab said.

Al-Shaaban, who spent 13 years in U.S. military custody, said the former detainees’ lack of economic security was an obstacle to family reunification.

“When we came to Uruguay we thought it was going to be possible for them (the men’s families) to come, but now I don’t think it’s a good idea because in our situation, we would not be able to support them,” he said.

Last week, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica visited five of the six former detainees at the Montevideo residence provided by the PIT-CNT labor confederation as a temporary shelter for the refugees.

The men are “fine,” the head of state said afterward, while the PIT-CNT’s secretary for international relations, Fernando Gambera, told Efe that all six of the refugees had received offers of employment.

Dhiab, asked about the high proportion of Uruguayans who tell pollsters they oppose the former detainees’ presence in their country, insisted he and the other men were not terrorists but only “hostages to politics.”

The detainees were never charged with any crime and the U.S. government certified to Uruguay that there was no evidence linking any of the men to terrorism.


 

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