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UN calls on Yemen's Houthis to release detained staff

Soldiers, belonging to the Houthi movement, carry their rifles in Sana'a, Yemen on 6 October 2021 [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]
Soldiers, belonging to the Houthi movement, carry their rifles in Sana'a, Yemen on 6 October 2021 [Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images]

The UN has urged Yemen's Houthi movement yesterday to release two members of its staff who were detained earlier this month in the capital Sana'a, which is under the control of the Houthi-led de-facto government.

UN Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters that "UN staff should not be arbitrarily detained"

"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the arrests and detention of two UN staff members in Sana'a by the Houthis earlier this month."

"We call for their immediate release," he added.

Both men are local Yemeni employees; one works in human rights and the other for UNESCO and were detained on 5 November and 2 November respectively. Dujarric said UN officials have, thus far, been unable to contact the men, nor has the staff been able to contact their families.

READ: Yemeni government, rebels urged to hold talks on Hudaydah – UN

The US has also called on the Houthis to free an unspecified number of Yemeni staff who were working at the now-closed US embassy in Sanaa, after the compound was overrun by Houthi forces.

Last week, a spokesperson for the US State Department disclosed that the "majority" of the staff members have since been released and that Washington was engaging in "unceasing" diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the security staff still in custody.

A statement issued by US lawmakers in response to the embassy breach also said, "The Houthis have long expressed a desire to assume a greater role in the governance of Yemen, but with governance comes responsibility and a need to uphold the basic principles of human rights and international law."

"Breaching the sovereign territory of a foreign embassy and threatening and detaining its staff clearly demonstrate the Houthis have no interest in peace, nor in making the changes necessary to become legitimate members of the international community."

"The Houthis should immediately release all US and UN staff, and suspend their campaign of harassment. Failing to do so is unacceptable and will have consequences," it warned.

Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen who is currently in the Gulf to discuss regional security concerns over Iran which supports the Houthis, said in a statement on Tuesday that he would bring up the situation with the de-facto government.

READ: Houthis: Government of ex-Yemen president had secret ties with Israel

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International OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsUNYemen
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