Sources: Yemen’s Houthis detain 12 UN workers

Sana’a, Jun. 7, (dpa/GNA) – Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have detained 12 United Nations employees in a crackdown in several areas of the war-wracked country, local sources close to the UN groups said on Friday.

The detentions were unleashed by the militia’s security and intelligence agencies on Thursday in the Houthi-controlled provinces of Sana’a, Hajah and Hodaidah, the sources added.

The male and female detainees include three employees of the UN High Commission, three from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and three working with other UN bodies, according to a statement attributed to local employees working with aid groups in the country.

In their statement, they called on the Houthis’ ruling self-styled Supreme Political Council to immediately release the detainees.

There has been no comment so far from the Houthis or the UN itself.

The Houthis have controlled parts of Yemen since 2014.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia launched a military coalition to support government forces when the Houthis advanced towards the government’s temporary seat of Aden.

The UN considers Yemen’s conflict a humanitarian disaster.

Last year, Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran agreed in a China-brokered deal to restore ties after a rupture of seven years, a step that raised hopes for an end to the years of bloodshed in impoverished Yemen.

In recent months, the Houthis have been targeting ships bound for Israeli ports or those owned by Israeli companies in the Red and Arabian seas and the Indian Ocean, in what they say is retaliation for Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip.

The militia also attacked US and British ships off Yemen after the two countries began launching strikes on areas under the group’s control.GNA